Cleaning Your Fireplace in the Spring or Summer Ensures It’s Ready for Fall and Winter
Owning a wood-burning fireplace is a luxury—and a tremendous responsibility. To keep your fireplace operating safely, it’s imperative that you take the time several times throughout the year to clean it. The more you use it throughout the fall and winter, the more often this task should be performed. At least once a year, you should give it a more thorough cleaning than usual—typically, the best time for this is at the beginning of spring or summer, when you won’t likely be using it again until the weather becomes colder. If you’ve been putting it off or haven’t taken the time to be especially meticulous about it, now’s a good time to grab your fireplace tools and snap to it!
Before you begin, make sure that at least 72 hours have passed since you last used your fireplace. This is to make sure that all of the ashes have cooled and that there are no hot embers that could burn you or cause damage. Put on a mask to prevent breathing in dust or ash, and lay out drop sheets or newspapers to keep the floors around your fireplace clean. With the brush included in your set of fireplace tools, clean all the soot and creosote from the damper, and then grab the dustpan and begin the sweep and removal of all the ashes and other debris from the hearth. If you’re not satisfied that the fireplace has been cleared of ash, use a vacuum cleaner to collect the last remnants and dispose of your ashes. If the ashes are regular wood, they can be composted.
Next, you should remove your andirons and fire grate to be cleaned. If your fireplace has doors, you should clean those as well. Place the andirons and grate on a towel—the kind you don’t mind getting dirty—and get a wire brush, steel wool, a rag, metal polish, and a solution of water and vinegar. Start by scrubbing away surface grime with the brush, and then wiping the surface down with the rag. When you’re ready to remove the tougher stuff, take the steel wool, dip it in polish and wipe down the surfaces with great care. Don’t be too aggressive! Wipe away the polish, wait for the surface to dry, and then gently coat with the water-vinegar solution. Wipe clean one last time, and let dry before returning the pieces to the fireplace.
If your fireplace is made of brick, your vinegar solution will be great for cleaning that too! After you’ve made sure that the entire area is in pristine condition, you can reassemble your fireplace and put the fireplace tools back on their stand. It’s now ready to go for the fall, saving you work down the road and giving you a beautiful centrepiece in your living room throughout the summer months.