A wood-burning fireplace is by far the dirtiest fireplace there is. With the comfort and coziness of real wood burning comes soot, smoke, dirt, dust, debris -- even critters! Plus, it also requires constant maintenance throughout the winter -- removing ashes and adding new wood. However, when it is clean the rewards for having a wood stove far out weigh the maintenance factors. So to help out our fellow wood fireplace lovers we will share with you all on how to prepare and clean your wood-burning fireplace.
- Give the exterior and interior a good once-over. Take note of any damage and missing or broken parts. Look outside at the exterior of your chimney. Any cracks will need to be repaired.
- Check the flu for leaves, birds nests and other critters.
- Assess how much cleaning is needed. If you have layers of ash that are one or more inches thick, you're in for a dirty job. Cleaning a wood-burning fireplace is a messy task, so old clothing and rubber gloves are necessary. Place a protective drop cloth in front of the fireplace to protect your floors and carpeting from soot. Also, make sure to grab a shovel if your ash bed is high.
- Remove the layers of ash and debris using a vacuum cleaner. Put it all into a trash bag and place aside.
- Scrub the fireplace. Using a scrub brush and a bucket full of soapy water, scrub the inside walls and floor of the fireplace.
- Don't scrub too hard on older brick. Doing this might cause it to crumble.
- Clean fireplace accessories. Screens, fireplace tools and log beds also get dirty and need to be cleaned. You can clean glass screens with a household glass cleaner. Mesh screens can be vacuumed. Tools can be cleaned inside or outdoors; give them a once-over with the scrub brush and soapy water, then spray them off with a hose. If you clean the tools inside, rinse each tool with water in your utility sink or using the spray nozzle in your kitchen sink.