Spring has sprung and it’s time for some spring cleaning, and that includes your fireplace! Many people would agree that one of the least favorite household chores is cleaning out the fireplace after the last fire of the season but it doesn’t have to be difficult with some easy tips. Ashes should be removed from the fireplace during the spring to avoid what we refer to as “Stinky Chimney Syndrome.”
10 Easy Steps to Cleaning Out the Fireplace
1. Make sure the ashes are completely cool before starting. It’s best to wait at least 48 hours after a fire in order to allow the ashes to completely cool.
2. If you have respiratory problems, asthma or allergies, use a mask. Breathing in the fine particulates can irritate the lungs of people who have respiratory problems. Better yet, if you have any kind of lung problems, let someone else in your family do this chore!!
3. Place plastic sheeting around the fireplace to ensure ashes don’t get on your carpeting. Wipe down the grate and place it to the side on the plastic sheeting.
4. Remove about a cup of ashes from the firebox and set aside. This will be used later to clean the glass in the glass doors.
5. Sprinkle some slightly damp, used coffee grounds on top of the ashes inside the firebox. This will settle down any dust and cut down on the fly-away ash, making it easier (and healthier) to sweep up.
6. Using a whisk broom and a dust pan, place the chunks of wood and ashes in a metal container with a lid. Sweep each interior wall of the firebox from top to bottom.
7. Brush each firescreen mesh from top to bottom. We find, for whatever reason, that firescreens tend to collect “dust bunnies.”
8. Place the metal container of ashes outside but never place the metal container on a wooden deck or patio if the ashes are warm. We’ve heard too many stories of houses burning down from this simple mistake.
9. Avoid harsh chemicals to clean the glass doors. Simply dip some damp newspapers in the ashes that you set aside and rub the glass to remove the soot and build-up. Because the ash is somewhat gritty, it’s much better at removing the residue off the glass than normal glass cleaners. Afterwards, spray white vinegar on the glass and wipe down with a soft rag to get the glass sparkling clean.
10. The last step is to close the damper. An open damper is the same as an open window. During the summer when you’re running your air conditioning with the damper open, all you’re doing is sucking the heat down the chimney and into the house, totally defeating the whole purpose of having your air conditioning on. Close the damper and you will save money on your electric bills. Just don’t forget to open your damper in the fall when you go to use your fireplace!
A Word of Warning
Don’t try to take the easy way out by using your household vacuum cleaner to remove the ashes from the firebox! You run the risk of ruining your vacuum cleaner so use a whisk broom and dustpan instead. In addition, the average household vacuum cleaner does not have the proper filter to prevent soot “blow-back” into the room. This blow-back may create a sooty mess on your carpeting, furniture, walls and window coverings. Even a Shop-Vac has the potential for creating blow-back. Professional chimney sweeps use industrial vacuums with special HEPA filters specifically designed to contain the fine particulates of soot.
The Best Solution
Of course, the easiest way to clean out your fireplace is to call your chimney sweep who’ll take care of that nasty chore for you as part of sweeping your chimney! In addition, your chimney will get a thorough inspection, inside and out, to make sure that it’s ready for the next burning season. The bonus is that we offer a discount during the spring and summer, so call Swede Chimney Sweep today at 858-573-1672. Check us out at www.swedesweep.com for additional information.