Spring is finally here. Yeah! So now the fireplace season is winding down. But do not think that means that your fireplace must therefore go unused during the warmer months. Quite the opposite! Keeping your fireplace as the centerpiece of your home is easy. But first there is a little spring cleaning to be done, before we can get to the fun decorating.
First order of business is to take care of that chimney. Cleaning your chimney thoroughly is one of the most important things you can do to keep your fireplace clean and safe. Make sure there is no creosote build-up in your chimney. If the creosote builds up, there is a chance that it will catch fire and since creosote burns at an extremely high temperature, it is a very dangerous and fast burning fire.
There are actually several good ways to clean out a chimney. One is to purchase a chimney brush that matches your size and type of chimney. These brushes are specially designed for cleaning out chimneys, but you need to make sure you have the right size for your specific chimney. Also, if you have a brick and mortar chimney you should use a wire brush, whereas if your chimney is prefab, you should use a brush with poly bristles. The shape of your chimney is also important in considering which brush to buy. Some chimneys are square or rectangle, while others are round. Once you have determined which brush is best for your chimney, you need to decide whether you are more comfortable climbing up on top of your roof to clean or sitting next to your fireplace.
If you decide that sitting next to the fireplace is the way to go, you will need to make sure you have enough chimney rods to span the entire length of your chimney. As you are sitting next to your fireplace, push your brush up through the flue. Continue to add more brush rods as needed until the brush is at the top of the chimney. As you pull the brush back down, you will need to make a back and forth motion to really scrub the creosote off the walls of the chimney. Be sure to shield your eyes, as some of this loosened creosote may fall into the firebox.
If you decide that cleaning your chimney from the top will work better for you, you will need to have a long piece of rope and some type of weight attached to the bottom of the chimney brush. Again, as you work the brush through the chimney, use a back and forth motion to be sure you are scraping off as much creosote as possible. If you do choose to use this method, make sure that you do it with safety precautions in place. Falling off the roof is never a good idea!
Chimney sweeps are another excellent option for cleaning your chimney. These professionals can make sure that all aspects of your chimney are up to safety standards. Look for a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep in your area to ensure that your fireplace is properly cared for.
Once you have finished cleaning your chimney, the next step in cleaning your fireplace to prepare it for the coming warmer months, is to clean out the firebox. You will need to give your firebox walls a good brushing with a nice stiff brush. Knock down all the loose soot and ash that has gotten stuck to the brick walls and flue.
Remove your fireplace grate and set it to the side on a newspaper. Keep it from touching your finished flooring, as it will leave a nice sooty footprint. You will clean this and your other fireplace tools in the next step. Using your fireplace shovel, you will need to scoop out as much of the completely cooled ash and the chunks of unburned wood as you can. Using your fireplace brush, sweep the remainder of the ash onto your shovel and into an ash bucket.
An alternative to using a fireplace brush to get the rest of the ash out would be to use a vacuum. Make sure you use a vacuum that has a good filter on it, as ash has very tiny particles. Ash vacuums are specially designed with extra fine filters, so this would be a great option. It is not as messy as sweeping up all that ash, either! Another advantage to using ash vacuums is that you do not have to wait until your ashes and embers are completely cooled before vacuuming them up. Make sure you carefully read all labels and instructions on your specific ash vacuum. If you really want to do a deep cleaning, you can use a damp rag and wipe down the walls and floor of your firebox. This is completely optional and only for those who like that “white glove” test.
The next step is to clean those well-used fireplace tools and fireplace grate. Black soot and resin can easily build up on your tools and can make them unsightly and grungy-looking. Here are a few simple steps to help bring back their original luster and shine.
Take your fireplace grate and tools outside and give them a good hosing down. This will quickly remove all of the loose soot and dirt from the surface. For the fireplace grate, fill a bucket with hot water and a small amount of abrasive cleaner. Scrub with a steel wool pad to remove the caked on resin and soot. You may need to use a stiff-bristled brush to get the really bad parts. For the fireplace tools, use hot water and a small amount of ammonia cleaner. Avoid using abrasives, as these may scratch the finish on your tools. You may use a scrub brush to get the stubborn dirt particles, but use caution so as not to damage the surface.
Once you have removed all the dirt and soot, you may decide to add an extra sparkle to your freshly cleaned fireplace tools. You can do this by polishing with a brass polisher. Follow all label instructions and warnings when applying this to your tools.
You can now enjoy your clean fireplace for the rest of the season, without worrying about flying dust or ash or about a dangerous creosote fire breaking out in the fireplace. Do not forget to close the flue to prevent any drafts and to keep your firebox free from debris. Decorating your fireplace is a pleasure once it is all clean. The fun part is deciding what you will use.
How about creating a fresh look for your fireplace by getting a new fireplace screen? There are so many options out there as far as design and style. Some of my favorites are single panel fireplace screens. With a single panel fireplace screen, you do not need to have much room on your hearth. Because it is a flat fireplace screen, it can sit right up against the firebox and takes up very little precious space. As for the design, how about adding the fresh look of spring with a leaf fireplace screen? If you really love that look, you can even get a matching leaf fireplace tool set and log holder to go with it!
Stained glass fireplace screens can add a new look to a tired out fireplace. Their beauty is timeless and lasts throughout the season. Among my favorites are the Wisteria Stained Glass Fireplace Screen, the Dragonfly/Flower Stained Glass Fireplace Screen, the Iris Stained Glass Fireplace Screen and the Roses Trellis Stained Glass Fireplace Screen. All of these remind me of spring and the wonderful colors that sprout up in this beautiful season.
If you are partial to brass, you can find a new brass fireplace screen that will make that fireplace really beautiful this season. The choices are endless when it comes to brass, because this is such a popular and durable material for fireplaces. You really cannot go wrong with a brass fireplace screen!
Or spruce up your firebox and give it a little flare! Remove your fireplace screen, andirons and fireplace grate and replace them with beautiful fireplace candelabra. It sits right inside your fireplace where the fireplace grate normally sits. You can light the candles for a romantic evening glow without the heat of a full fire, or just leave them unlit and enjoy the beauty of the candelabra on its own.
Decorate your mantel with some freshly picked spring flowers, like tulips or daffodils. Make it simple. You only need a few flowers carefully arranged in a nice glass vase to make a fresh and bold statement. Enjoy your fireplace year round, not just during the winter. It is a beautiful addition to your home that should not be forgotten! Have fun making your fireplace an inviting area to gather around, even without a roaring fire. Think outside the “fire”box!