Expert Tips for Keeping Your Fireplace Clean This Winter
Did you know that you can keep your fireplace looking bright and clean throughout the winter season? Even if you use your fireplace on a frequent basis, there’s no need to put up with a filthy-looking hearth until the arrival of warmer spring weather. With the following expert advice, you can enjoy a sparkling fireplace year around.
When to Scoop the Ash
There are practical reasons to keep a layer of about an inch of ash on the floor of your fireplace, if you rely on it for warmth. It’s impossible to make sooty ash look clean, but you could smooth and even out the floor of ash, as part of the process of giving the fireplace a scrubbed appearance.
The ash serves an important purpose. It is much easier to get a fire going and keep it maintained, with the ash below. Getting the blaze going as quickly as possible helps to reduce the amount of flammable creosote deposited in the chimney flue. Another benefit of an inch of ash is that hot coals from a fire that are nestled in ash stay alive longer, providing more heat to your home.
After the ash is deeper than an inch, remove enough that your remaining ash is back to being the desired thickness. It’s past time to clean out the ash if it is so deep that it doesn’t allow air to pass between the grate and the ash.
Tips for Cleaning Ash
The ash in your fireplace has the potential to be both dangerous and messy. Many hazardous and even deadly fires have occurred as a result of handling the ashes without appropriate precautions. The following are helpful tips for ash cleaning:
· Don’t begin ash cleanup until you are certain there are no remaining hot embers. There’s no set amount of time in which a fire cools, since there are many factors that can change the timing. For instance, hardwoods produce long-burning coals. Softwoods don’t produce significant coals; therefore, fires go cold much more quickly.
· Put down a protective barrier over your carpeting and furniture before beginning ash removal.
· Ashes from the fireplace contain toxic elements, and they can become an irritant in your nose and lungs. Wear a face mask, gloves, and goggles for your own protection during ash cleanup.
· Remove the grate and andirons, if any, from the fireplace. Bring them outside and remove dirt and soot with a nylon brush.
· If you have an ash vacuum, use it to remove the ashes, unless you are going to keep a layer for the benefits stated above. Never use a basic vacuum cleaner to remove ash, since embers can remain hot for a long time and start a fire in the vacuum.
· If removing ash by hand and you want to prevent the soot from billowing into the room, sprinkle used, damp coffee grounds on the ashes first.
· Ashes should be placed in an ash bucket with a lid. The ash should then be carried away from the house on a surface that would not be affected by hot embers inside the bucket. Ash buckets set on wooden porches have caused destructive house fires.
Cleaning Other Fireplace Components
Now that you know how to handle the ashes, the following are more steps for getting your fireplace virtually spic and span:
· Use a soft cloth or a vacuum brush attachment to clean the mantelpiece and fireplace surround.
· Do not use water to clean metal parts of your fireplace, since it could result in rusting. There are products you can buy to paint cast iron and wrought iron, if needed in your fireplace or on your grate. WD40 can be used to polish slate hearths and metal fireplaces.
· If there is unvarnished wood on your surround, care for it just as you would other wood furniture but remember to apply polishing products more frequently, since the heat from fires dry out the wood.
· If your fireplace has glass doors and the glass has become sooty, follow manufacturer’s directions for cleaning. It’s important to use the correct product, and application is usually made with crumbled black-and-white print newspaper.
Removal of Creosote
Creosote should be removed from your chimney flue when 1/8-inch or more has built up. This should be done by a professional sweep, usually once annually. If you use your fireplace heavily during winter, schedule chimney cleaning for the middle of the season.
Enjoy your tidy fireplace and call our licensed, professional chimney sweeps today for professional chimney cleaning. Our number is (262) 763-3522.