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Fireplace Cleaning and Maintenance
Keeping your fireplace clean and properly maintained is extremely important. Along with the pleasure of a fireplace, comes the responsibility of ensuring you are getting the most efficiency possible and keeping you, your family, and home safe. The best way to clean a fireplace depends on the type of fireplace that you have - each fireplace is different. This article is designed to provide general information on how to clean or to maintain the fireplace.

Regardless of the type of fireplace owned, wood burning, gas, freestanding, etc., it is a good idea to have it inspected once a year by a professional. Generally, a professional will check the fan, pilots and burners, proper ignition and combustion, venting, and chimney draw. The price of such service will vary from state to state but you can expect to pay around $100. If you are familiar with each of these things, you may be able to do this yourself, however, certain prats of this check can be quite challenging, particularly if there is something wrong.

Birds, squirrels, and even raccoons are famous for building nests and adding debris to chimneys. When chimneys are not checked for obstructions, homes catch on fire and you have a real problem on your hands. If you hear noises near the top of your chimney, or if you see animals congregating close to the area, it is liekly that you have a problem. If the animals are near the chimney, you chould immediately clear them out and also clear out any nest. Anything that obstructs the flow of air can result in fumes or smoke staying in the fireplace or coming out of the wrong area.

In addition to professional service, you can do numerous things to clean your fireplace on an on-going basis and ensure safety. The list below is intended to outline some of these options:
  • Use a toothbrush and Worcestershire sauce to keep brass shiny. You can scrub the brass knobs, or even the door or metal areas around the fireplace. This will help to keep the area clean and shiny for guests and future use.

  • Avoid burning a fire longer than five hours and be sure the door is open for proper venting.

  • Always keey the screen closed to keep hot embers from jumping onto the carpet.

  • Consider placing a non-flammable rug directly in front of the fireplace just in case any sparks do escape.

  • The rug will prevent sparks from igniting a carpet or wooden floor in case some of these sparks escape from the fire.

  • Also make sure that the rug is kept clear of flamable items.

  • Never leave your fire unattended, especially when small children are present.

  • To prevent water damage, animal nesting, or other types of debris to obstruct the chimney, use a chimney cap.

  • Keep the firebox cleaned out once a week during the time you use the fireplace. During this time, keep one inch of ash in the bottom, which works as an insulator to help coals heat faster and retain heat longer. During the months that the fireplace is not in use, remove all the ash.

  • Before removing the ash from the firebox, open the damper, which will draw any flying ash up and not out into the room.

  • Since coals can stay hot for several days after a fire is extinguished, never use a vacuum cleaner to clean out the ash. You could easily end up with an unexpected fire.

  • Exterior slate hearths can be cleaned by using lemon oil every month or two. If your fireplace has brick, you can purchase actual brick cleaner from a fireplace store. Either of these items will help keep this clean. Be sure to check on the type of items so that you can determine what cleaner or solution will be right for you.

  • Gas logs should be cleaned once a month by using a soft bristle brush and cleaned only when cool. Do not clean the gas logs right after a fire - wait several hours until you are sure that they have cooled down.

  • Remove excess ashes and unburned logs from the fire for wood fireplaces periodically.

You want to enjoy your fireplace to the fullest and with proper cleaning, care, and maintenance, you will be able to burn beautiful fires with complete safety. Moreover cleaning the fireplace will make sure that the fireplace lasts a long time and that you will be able to create fires many years in the future. Keeping the fireplace well cleaned can also make the fireplace more pleasant to use and can make it a better feature for quests and visitors.

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