Fireplaces are a cozy addition to any room, whether they have a sleek, matte, modern design or have older, historical-style stone features. No matter where or what your fireplace looks like, cleaning the frame and firebox is essential for both good maintenance and to keep it looking its best – especially if you use it frequently. While most designs can be cleaned using the same basic ingredients and techniques, a heating expert has shared the best tips for polishing stone, marble, brick and cast iron materials.
Cleaning your fireplace may not seem like a priority when you use it all the time, but it’s more important than you think for your own safety. This is because creosote — which is a by-product of wood burning — can start a chimney fire if it accumulates in large quantities.
Andrew Wilson, a contractor with Contractor Advisorly, said: “While you can take certain steps to reduce the amount of creosote that forms, you can’t prevent it from growing, which makes cleaning your chimney a mandatory task.”
This has other benefits as well. Not only does cleaning make your fireplace much more energy efficient by unclogging the fireplace insert, it also improves the overall appearance of this warming centerpiece.
As a rule of thumb, all you need is a cleaning brush, vacuum and lint-free cloth to buff up your firebox and heart, although white vinegar is essential for brick and glass doors too.
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Traci Fournier, vice president of operations at One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning, recommended starting with a cool, extinguished fire before you start cleaning, so you have to wait until it’s “cold to the touch.”
To make the job easier, consider disassembling and removing any accessories such as glass doors or screens for easier access. Additionally, Traci suggested removing the burner assembly and all logs before brushing the area.
Dust off any surface debris with the brush, taking time to inspect the fireplace for damage or hazards as you do so. Then vacuum the chimney completely with a hose attachment, paying particular attention to the smaller cracks.
With a soft, damp cloth, wipe down the inside of the chimney to remove “large dust” and vacuum again to remove any loose particles.
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Before polishing any part of your chimney with anything other than water, you should consult the manufacturer’s manual to avoid unnecessary wear and tear.
If you have a marble fireplace surround, you should stick to gentle all-purpose cleaners. Traci warned against using hot water as it “can damage the finish”.
A small amount of mild dish soap like Dawn mixed with water is a safe way to clean marble. Just make sure you don’t use abrasive or acidic ingredients like lemon juice, white vinegar, or baking soda.
Finish cleaning the marble elements with a dry microfiber cloth to remove any water stains and leave a lustrous shine.
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Stone is another delicate but easy to clean material. After following the basic dusting and vacuuming steps, use a gentle dish soap and warm water solution to remove dirt and stains as you clean the brickwork.
The heating expert added: “Allow the stone to dry completely and be careful not to oversaturate the stone with water as this can leave water stains.”
While brick seems tough and long-lasting against most cleaning products, you should stick to white vinegar when cleaning your chimney.
After dusting and vacuuming, mix equal parts warm water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Traci said, “Spray the mixture over the bricks and leave for five minutes. Blot any stains or dirt with a sponge, using more vinegar mixture if needed.”
For stubborn dirt or dirt in the crevices of the bricks, use a stiff-bristled brush to remove the dirt; Then let it dry.
Cast iron requires something stronger to get that unique finish and should be buffed with a soft cloth and denatured alcohol. Traci noted that faded or worn cast iron fireplaces can be restored with a strong substance like WD-40 for added shine.
Of course, this should be done after the rest of the chimney has been cleaned with a brush and vacuum to reduce creosote build-up and remove dust particles.
When it comes to cleaning your fireplace door, you can easily get rid of stains and tarnish with one cup of vinegar and three cups of water. Pour into a spray bottle, spray liberally on the door and leave for a minute. Wipe clean with a microfiber cloth in circular motions.