Spring is the best season to do a thorough cleaning of our homes. This time of the year, when the weather begins to turn warmer, is a good opportunity to do a top-to-bottom cleaning—hence the term “spring cleaning.”
And yes, tackle the more obvious areas in our kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms, but don’t forget that it’s essential to clean the fireplace and chimney as well.
In fact, the National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys and fireplaces be cleaned at least once a year, to guarantee that everything is in working order, and to keep you and your family safe from harm.
Of course, it is always best to get a professional to deal with chimney and fireplace spring cleaning—and you will need a safety inspection done on them every year anyway. But here are some things you can do on your own to ensure the basic cleanliness of your fireplace and chimney.
Note: Before you start, make sure that you are wearing clothes that you can comfortably move around in and that you won’t mind getting very dirty. We also suggest a face mask keep ashes and other particles from getting into your nose and mouth.
A simple, step-by-step guide for spring-cleaning your fireplace:
1. Clean Out the area in front of your fireplace. Remove anything in the way of the base of the fireplace and put down some plastic sheeting or old towels to protect your floor. (If you want to minimize your cleanup time, this step is essential.)
2. Clean the fireplace grate with a wet cloth, set it aside and let it air dry.
3. Sweep away and throw out any debris or remaining half-burned logs. Keep a garbage pail nearby for convenience.
4. Vacuum the bottom and walls of the fireplace with a shop vacuum, not the one you use for your house, because the ashes in your fireplace are so fine they could damage the filter of a regular vacuum cleaner.
A shop vacuum, also known as a wet-and-dry vacuum, is what is used in carpentry workshops for suctioning heavier debris or liquid spills. They’re built to handle vacuuming a lot of sawdust and similar particles, and so are perfect for cleaning your fireplace.
5. Wipe down the walls and floor with wet clothes after vacuuming.
6. Scrub the floor and walls with warm, soapy water. We suggest that you do it a little at a time, cleaning as you go, for an easier and more thorough job.
7. Wipe the floor and walls of the fireplace one last time with a wet cloth and water, and then wipe the floor and walls dry with an old towel.
For your chimney’s spring cleaning, here is our handy guide:
1. Again, make sure your floor is covered in sheeting or old towels before you start. Cleaning chimneys can get very messy.
2. Test the amount of dirt in your chimney by sticking a pencil into the chimney flue. Scrape the side of the pipe. If the dirt is more than 1/8 of an inch thick, it’s time for a good cleaning.
3. Shine a light up the chimney to see if any animals have settled there. If there are, get them removed before you start.
4. Make sure you have the right size tools for cleaning the chimney, as well as the chimney brushes, ladder and other equipment you need. If you are doing this for the first time, make sure you measure your chimney first. (There are many sizes of chimney brushes available, so an accurate measurement is needed.)
5. Remove and clean the damper inside your chimney with a small wire brush. Set it aside so you can clean the rest of the chimney without the damper getting in your way.
6. Use a long wire chimney brush along the walls of your chimney, bottom to top. The wire brush will be connected to metal rods that unfold, so you can have the length you need the higher you go.
7. You can test the cleanness of your chimney by using a flashlight again, to see to the top. Repeat using the wire brush on you’re the chimney walls as much as you need to until you are satisfied with the cleanness of your chimney.