How to Maintain a Fireplace? 

Whether you have a wood-burning or gas fireplace, you want to keep it working properly and safely. In addition to heating your home, a well-maintained fireplace will increase your indoor air quality and help prevent mold and mildew buildup. Here are a few tips to help you maintain your fireplace: 

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Start by clearing the area around the fireplace, including combustible materials like carpets and furniture that may be near the hearth. Put down a protective barrier over the area, then use a shop vacuum or a hand broom to sweep up ash and soot. Be sure to empty the ashes into a waste container nearby so that they don’t blow away and get on your furniture or floor. 

Next, clean the brick on the fireplace surround and chimney. This will remove soot and grime that can cause smoke, chimney fire and other problems down the line. If you have an older brick fireplace, consider replacing the stone with a newer material to improve its appearance and increase durability. 

Once you’ve cleared the surrounding area, check the logs and other components for deterioration. Look for signs of cracks, rust, and lose parts. If necessary, reseal the areas with caulk or epoxy. 

For more thorough cleaning, you can make a cleaning solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Apply the solution to all surfaces and accessories that aren’t already covered in ash, including glass doors, gas logs, a mesh curtain or a metal screen. Let it sit for a few minutes and then wipe it down with a rag. If the area is especially soiled, you can also use soapy water or dish detergent to clean it up. 

As you work, always have a face mask, goggles, gloves and a garbage bag in place for dumping the waste into as you clean. This will protect you from harmful toxins that are released when you’re scrubbing the fireplace, and it will prevent your clothing or other items from getting soaked in ash. 

The scrubbing process can get messy, so be prepared for a few drops of ash to fall into your eyes and nose, so be sure to wear gloves and a face mask. The ashes from your fireplace contain toxic elements that can irritate your eyes, nose and throat. 

In addition, the ashes and dust from your fireplace can be an irritant to your lungs and cause respiratory problems. Wear a face mask and safety goggles, as these will prevent you from inhaling the toxic ash. 

You should also clean the ash from your fireplace whenever it reaches the bottom of the grate, where it can impede airflow and make it harder to ignite a fire. This is particularly important when you’re using recently cut, or “green,” wood, as this type of firewood produces more creosote than denser woods like oak. 

After sweeping and scrubbing the inside of your fireplace, you should be able to see the flames clearly through the clean glass door. Soot and grime tend to build up on the glass, so you’ll need to clean it at least once a year to keep your fireplace looking its best. You can clean the glass with a damp newspaper, dipped in ash, or you can use a scrubbing brush to scrub off the soot. For stubborn stains, try a trisodium phosphate cleaner to remove the soot.