Creosote and soot build up with regular use, creating an ignitable byproduct which needs to be periodically cleared away, particularly in high usage homes or when burning fresh or unseasoned logs.
Before beginning, ensure the surrounding furniture and floor are protected with old sheets or towels to safeguard their cleanliness. Also remove grate and andirons for cleaning purposes.
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In warmer months, it is ideal to have your fireplace professionally cleaned. Animals don’t often huddle into chimneys for warmth and bird droppings are less of an issue in these warmer temperatures. Professional chimney sweeps also prefer cleaning chimneys during spring and summer as this allows them to get an accurate assessment of its condition so they can recommend any repairs needed before winter hits.
No matter if your fireplace is used for wood- or gas-burning, regular usage will cause soot and creosote buildup over time. Creosote is highly flammable and may lead to chimney fires – cleaning can help eliminate excess creosote by regularly eliminating it through routine inspection and removal, thus helping avoid fire hazards as well as reduce chimney deterioration while prolonging its life and the longevity of its liner.
At minimum, professional chimney sweeps should inspect and sweep your chimney at least annually – more often is best! They use special tools designed to remove soot and other debris from your chimney flue, while do-it-yourself kits may help with some cleaning efforts but cannot replace their expertise.
Chimney cleanings can help protect both the structure of your home and save you money. Chimneys that haven’t been regularly maintained may develop leaks or cracks that allow rainwater into the chimney and mix with creosote, leading to costly fires. By having it professionally inspected and cleaned prior to winter setting in, costly repairs may be avoided.
Maintaining a clean fireplace will not only make it more enjoyable in the colder months, but it will also enhance the safety of you, your family, and pets. A clean chimney allows the gases produced from fire to flow freely into the room more freely – thus decreasing levels of smoke and carbon monoxide that enter your home.
Ideally, it is recommended that if you own a wood-burning fireplace it should be professionally cleaned once annually; if used as additional heat in wintertime it would be wiser to have it serviced twice annually.
Summertime is an ideal time for cleaning a fireplace as less people use fires, making this season ideal. Lower usage helps prevent the accumulation of creosote deposits that are difficult to remove; furthermore, lower temperatures make accessing and performing chimney sweeping work more comfortable and safer.
As part of your cleaning regimen, it is a good idea to remove ash from the grate and andirons with a scoop or hand broom, before using a dustpan and brush to sweep any accumulated dust or debris off of the fireplace floor into a bucket for removal outside or disposal in an appropriate container.
Follow up by using a damp cloth or sponge to scrub down the walls and hearth, being careful not to use too much cleaner, which could damage brick in older fireplaces. Brushes or vacuums may also help get rid of dirt from inside the fireplace. If there’s any soot that won’t budge, try creating a 50-50 solution of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, and using that solution on a clean cloth or sponge to apply. Gently rub sooty areas of your fireplace with the cloth, taking care not to scratch glass or ceramic firebrick surfaces with vigorous scrubbing. Finally, use a soft, lint-free cloth and mild household cleaner such as paste glass cleaner to wipe down fireplace door frames. When using ammonia-based cleaners that may produce strong odors be sure that room ventilation is sufficient before proceeding.
If you don’t want to do the dirty work yourself, a professional chimney sweep can do it for you. Just make sure that they are registered with the National Chimney Sweep Association so they have all of the equipment and expertise necessary to safely and properly clean your chimney.
An operable fireplace is essential to creating an enjoyable living experience in your home. From entertaining guests and warming the family to simply keeping warm on a cold night, a well-functioning fire is crucial. While it may be easy to take for granted your fireplace as the weather warms up, neglecting it could result in expensive repair bills or even dangerous conditions like housefires and carbon monoxide poisoning if left neglected.
Firelight can bring joy on crisp autumn evenings. From crackling wood or glowing gas flames, to cozy hearths that welcome family and friends together to cozy up by, fireplaces provide one of the greatest pleasures of fall and winter. Unfortunately, their comfort comes at the price of soot and creosote buildup in both wood-burning and gas fireplaces, leading to dark stains inside as well as on your hearth, mantel and mantelpiece – as well as being potential fire hazards; according to The National Fire Protection Association recommendations that both chimney and fireplace be checked and professionally cleaned every year by professionals.
As a rule of thumb, the more frequently you use your fireplace, the greater its cleaning needs will become and soot and creosote will build up over time. Therefore, it’s generally wise to tackle this task during summer and early autumn when temperatures are more manageable and usage rates drop accordingly.
Though you can perform some of the cleaning on your own, professional chimney sweeps are your best bet when it comes to thoroughly clearing away buildup from your chimney and fireplace, especially if it has been some time since your last sweeping. They use brushes, vacuums and other tools to safely and efficiently clear out buildup while inspecting for signs of damage that you cannot see with the naked eye.
If you are planning to do the cleaning yourself, begin by clearing away all ash and dust using a fireplace broom and dustpan. Next, take out your grate and andirons for a thorough scrub with trisodium phosphate (TSP), bleach, and water solution before cleaning walls and floor of firebox – then rinse thoroughly before leaving it to dry.
Clean the hearth and surround of your fireplace using a masonry cleaner, using a stiff brush to scrub and rinse. Wipe down all decorative glass doors as well as any decorative fixtures.
Creosote, an flammable byproduct of wood combustion, builds up in your chimney over time when you use your fireplace, making sweeping harder and increasing fire risk for you and your family. Left unattended it could even result in chimney fires that destroy your home.
Creosote poses significant dangers that need to be managed, which is why professional chimney cleaners should be hired regularly. Climbing onto your roof to perform this process can be dangerous without experience; chimney sweeping could take several hours depending on its size and degree of contamination.
If you aren’t sure when it is time to clean your chimney, use a fireplace poker and inspect for a layer of soot 1/8 of an inch thick inside of the flue. This should indicate when to schedule a chimney sweep; by scheduling them now in spring or summer you will get them completed before winter arrives!
Avoid overly large logs when loading your fireplace and remove ashes after each use to help avoid creosote buildup and promote more efficient combustion, leading to less creosote accumulation in your fireplace. Doing this will promote better burning efficiency while decreasing creosote buildup in your space.
If you decide to undertake your fireplace’s cleaning yourself, be sure to wear a face mask in order to protect yourself from fumes that come off burning wood. When handling ash and coals – which may still be hot and flammable weeks later – always wear rubber gloves as these materials may still be hot and potentially flammable even days after their combustion has stopped. Also remove any accumulated ash at the bottom of the chimney so it doesn’t fall back into your fire. For any inquiries regarding your fireplace or professional chimney sweep services – contact Fireplaces & More today – our skilled staff have skills, experience and tools needed to ensure its functioning optimally longterm!