Everyone who has a swimming pool knows if you live in a colder climate you must prepare your pool for the winter and close it properly to prevent damage. Did you know that the same principles apply to your fireplace and chimney during the warmer months? Total Chimney Care encourages you to add chimney and fireplace maintenance to your list of spring cleaning rituals. While it takes a professional chimney sweep to provide you with a yearly knowledgeable and comprehensive chimney cleaning and inspection, there are some relatively simple tasks homeowners can also perform once the cold weather has left.
As part of their Spring Cleaning Countdown, Woman’s Day magazine offers guidelines to homeowners regarding basic soot removal:
Before you begin make sure you have plastic goggles to protect your eyes from the ashes, a strong scrub brush, rubber gloves, a plastic drop cloth and bucket, and old newspapers. Be sure your children and pets are out of the room.
- Using a plastic liner or garbage bag, line the floor in front of your fireplace to protect any bordering rugs or carpeting.
- Remove the grates; bring outdoors and polish clean.
- Sweep loose ashes from the floor of your fireplace and collect them in a plastic bag.
- Next, line the fireplace floor with old newspapers. Scrape the chimney walls with a soot brush. Dispose of the newspaper and collected debris in a plastic bag, along with the previously gathered ashes.
After you have cleaned the fireplace, we recommend using a mixture of vinegar and water to wipe out the fireplace and hearth. The vinegar and water mixture helps clean and also reduces any lingering odors from past fires. If you have a wood burning stove, be sure to shut the damper. If you have a gas fireplace, the damper should always be open to prevent toxic gas seepage into your home. Additionally, if you have a gas fireplace, turn off the pilot light.
These steps will help the superficial buildup of soot and ash from a long fall and winter of use. However nothing replaces the professional cleaning and inspection for your entire venting system and those places that homeowners would never be able to see or reach. According the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) homeowners should have a yearly inspection and professional cleaning performed by a CSIA certified technician. CSIA not only provides comprehensive training programs for chimney technicians, they also provide recommendations and resources for homeowners regarding proper chimney and fireplace care and guidelines as to which maintenance tasks can be done by the homeowner and which are best left to the chimney professionals.
Properly maintaining your fireplace and chimney has more than aesthetic value. Dirty, blocked, and/or leaking chimneys and fireplaces mean your home and family are at risk for fires and toxic gas poisoning. Total Chimney Care is here to keep you safe. Call us today for a consultation regarding your fireplace and chimney needs.