Regular cleaning is a normal part of running a wood fireplace. This includes cleaning up debris that fell off wood as it was being carried in, ashes in the hearth area and the surfaces of the firebox. Sweeping up ashes and wood fragments is simple enough, but take care when going inside the fireplace. Cleaning the firebox should involve more than simply sweeping it out.
With months and years of use, the firebox experiences extremely high temperatures that can cause deterioration and damage. These temperatures, mixed with combustion by-products, require that the firebox not only be cleaned regularly but that it be closely inspected to spot any compromise to its materials.
Smoke and the toxins within it are highly acidic and can cause cracks in both metal and masonry after extended exposure. With a meticulous annual inspection, you’ll be able to spot early signs of damage and erosion and take the necessary steps to solve the problem.
Homeowners who bring in a professional chimney sweep for an annual chimney inspection typically have their fireboxes – and all other parts of the fireplace system – inspected at this time.
Cleaning the firebox
Of course, you don’t want to wait until your annual inspection rolls around to clean your firebox. Ash and soot accumulate pretty quickly and should be removed after each use of the fireplace. If left to sit, these substances can have corrosive effects and cause damage.
Here are some tips for cleaning the firebox yourself:
· Start by removing ashes and any wood debris. Use a metal shovel, and deposit the ashes in a metal ash bucket. Remaining ashes can be swept up with a whisk broom or similar implement.
· Wash the interior of the firebox with a general all-purpose cleaner. If there is sticky buildup on surfaces, you’ll need something stronger. Oven cleaner is an option, and you also can visit your local hearth store and purchase a cleaner made specifically for this job.
· In most cases of significant buildup, you’ll likely need a good scrub brush or abrasive sponge.
· Any time you’re using harsh chemicals, you should wear protective rubber gloves and an eye shield. Depending on the extent of your cleaning task, you might want to cover the immediate area outside the firebox with a drop cloth or sheet.
What a chimney inspection entails
When hiring a professional to perform service on your fireplace system, many tasks can be performed during the visit including a thorough cleaning of the firebox, chimney and other areas; a comprehensive inspection with close attention paid to deterioration and damage; recommendations on components that need repair or replacement.
Keeping your firebox clean during the burn season is something most homeowners can do on their own. It can be a messy job, but it’s a job that can’t be put off for too long. When it comes to a full inspection and cleaning, residents of Alpharetta, Ga., and surrounding areas rely on the experts at Chimney Solutions. Get the info you need about inspections, repair and cleaning for your fireplace and chimney by calling 770-255-1300.