Home Improvement Published November 13, 2011 By Eric Dale
Fireplace Cleaning Tips to Keep Your Home Sparkling and Safe

A clean fireplace creates a favorable impression of your home, but it also protects you and your home from potentially destructive fire damage. Proper wood burning methods and periodic cleaning help keep the inside of your fireplace free of flammable residue. Preventive fireplace cleaning will also keep surfaces visible so you can see whether your firebox and flue are structurally sound.

Flue Fireplace Cleaning

The flue—the inside of the chimney, which vents smoke up and out—accumulates dangerous byproducts from the smoke, called creosote. Deposits of creosote and soot inside the flue can ignite from gas or embers into an explosive chimney fire. To ensure a safe chimney, the flue should be cleaned and inspected periodically. Cleaning will also expose any structural deterioration in the chimney lining, where sparks or gas could seep into your home in the form of carbon monoxide or fire.

Having the fireplace flue professionally cleaned is relatively inexpensive compared to doing it your self. Cleaning the flue is a messy job and requires special tools. A professional can also make sure your chimney is unobstructed from birds, squirrels or debris.

Burn Cleaner Fires for a Cleaner Flue

You can help prevent a dirty flue by burning cleaner fires. The main cause of creosote in chimneys is slower burning fires with less heat. Hotter, more vigorous fires pass through chimneys more quickly, resulting in less creosote buildup.

Help fuel your fire with enough oxygen by cracking a window. Burn wood, which is aged well instead of green wood, which converts to creosote inside of flues. Keep the firebox cleared of old ashes to allow necessary airflow for your fires.

To reduce already existing buildup of creosote in the flue—burn a Chimney Sweeping Log (CSL). The CSL can reduce creosote levels significantly, relative to the level of buildup and deposit already in your chimney.

Burning cleaner fires will go a long way in preventing dangerous flammable buildup in your chimney.

Finish Fireplace Cleaning with Firebox and Damper

Clean the ashes and soot from the firebox—the section where the fire is burned, as well as from the damper—the vent door above the fire, which opens and closes for circulation. Professionals use goggles or a respirator mask for reaching in and around the damper to clean with a stiff bristle brush. Professionals also use a high efficiency vacuum with brush attachments to reach around the damper and firebox.

For scrubbing surfaces, use a soot bleach, degreaser or other specialty fireplace cleaning solvent. For green cleaning options, try all-purpose cleaners like baking soda, vinegar, chlorine bleach or Tri Sodium Phosphate (TSP). Let the cleaner soak before scrubbing with a stiff-bristle brush, but not wire.

Clean any residue from grates and andirons in the same way.

As you clean, check for any broken bricks or cracks in mortar joints, which can be fire hazards. If your fireplace is structurally sound, consider finishing your fireplace cleaning with some fireplace-rated paint for a more finished look.

A Clean Fireplace Looks Finished and Functions Best

A clean fireplace from top to bottom or bottom to top is fundamental to maintenance. Burning clean fires will help keep a cleaner, safer flue—letting you focus on keeping your fireplace shining bright.

QUICK TIPS

• A clean fireplace creates a favorable impression of your home, but it also protects you and your home from potentially destructive fire damage.

• Proper wood burning methods and periodic cleaning help keep the inside of your fireplace free of flammable residue.

• Preventive fireplace cleaning will expose surfaces so you can see whether your firebox and flue are structurally sound.

• The flue—the inside of the chimney—accumulates dangerous byproducts called creosote, which can ignite into explosive chimney fires.

• It’s worth having the flue professionally cleaned since it’s a messy job and requires special tools.

• You can help prevent a dirty flue by burning cleaner fires—burn hotter fires with well-aged wood and with more oxygen by cracking a window in the room.

• To reduce already existing buildup of creosote in the flue—burn a Chimney Sweeping Log (CSL).

• Clean the ashes and soot from the firebox and the damper.

• Scrub surfaces with a fireplace cleaning solvent.

• As you clean, check for any broken bricks or cracks in mortar joints, which can be fire hazards.

• A clean fireplace is a safe fireplace—some fresh fireplace paint will add to the finished look of your home.

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About Author

Eric M. Dale has actively been involved in financing and investing for over 20 years. As the CEO of Capital Funding Corporation he has personally completed over $5 Billion in transaction funding and has consulted on numerous projects surrounding real estate and oil and gas.


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