While getting your fireplace and chimney professionally cleaned and maintained annually is important, you should know what you can also do between service visits. Some tips worth knowing and following are discussed below.
Check for Blockages
If you are preparing the chimney for the approaching cold months, you should do a physical check. This calls for checking the following:
- The exterior of the chimney. Look for loose masonry and any type of blockage at the top of the chimney. Make sure the chimney cap is in place and that it is not damaged.
- Small birds, rodents and nests in the flute. Small critters can and frequently use any opening to build a home during the months when the chimney is not big used.
- Use a flashlight to look into the damper to help you see clearly when checking for blockages there. Some blockages may need to be cleared by a professional chimneysweep.
Cleaning the Fireplace
If you are cleaning the chimney yourself you need to have all necessary tools and supplies at hand. Supplies needed include:
- A cleaner, whether store bought or you can make your own by combining common household solutions like water and vinegar or cream of tart and water.
- A spray bottle
- A small broom or brush to sweep the fireplace
- A scrub brush or other abrasive cleaning sponge or rag
- Wire brush
- A vacuum
Once the tools are in hand, you need to protect the area surrounding the chimney as well as your clothing. Do this by spreading a newspaper, old clothes or towel that you can throw away in front of the fireplace. Put on an apron to protect your clothing. If you do not have an apron, you can wear old clothes you no longer plan on wearing. Also put on a respirator to help you breathe without taking in the soot you are cleaning.
Steps in Cleaning
The first step is to clean up the ash and other debris. A flat fireplace shovel is an efficient tool for removing ash from the fireplace. Sweep everything into a heap with the brush or broom and remove with the shovel.
Next, spray on a liberal amount of soapy water to loosen the soot and stains. Then scrub with an abrasive tool such as a wire brush. Be mindful that some stains can be difficult to remove and should ideally be taken care of by a professional with the required cleaning solutions.
Whether or not you plan on doing any cleaning or maintenance of your chimney and fireplace yourself, it is a good idea to know what is required. This information will help you in choosing a chimney sweep. Also, be aware that properly cleaning your fireplace is a time consuming activity.
Note: The ash from the fireplace can be added to compost for your garden.
The chimney sweeps here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service are well-trained and highly certified. Call us at 610-626-2439 to schedule an appointment with a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep in Drexel Hill or the surrounding areas. We will help ensure that your chimney is ready to face the quickly-approaching winter season without issue.