There’s nothing quite as cozy as a cup of hot cocoa in front of a warm hearth to ease the chill of a Minnesota winter night. But if your favorite winter pastime is sitting around the fireplace night after night, your brick can get pretty dirty after a while.
Just like anything else in your home, your masonry requires occasional maintenance to stay looking and working as it should. Because masonry is porous, cleaning your fireplace can prove challenging without the right tools for the job.
In this post from our masonry contractors at The Construction Group, we’re sharing tips for masonry fireplace maintenance to keep your hearth looking beautiful year after year. To schedule your professional masonry services, give us a call today.
1. CLEAN THE ASHES
Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your fireplace ashes, allowing them to build up. Once your ashes reach about two inches in depth, it’s time to clean them out. You should also clear out your fireplace ashes when you’ve stopped using your fireplace for the year in early spring.
Always make sure your fireplace is completely cool before cleaning. To clean your fireplace ashes, use a flat fireplace shovel, scooping the ashes into a bucket so you can easily dispose of them. Once the fireplace is clear, use a shop vac or a vacuum attachment to remove any remaining loose soot and debris.
2. REMOVE THE SOOT
Before getting started, place a waterproof drop cloth on the floor near your fireplace. Use a spray bottle filled with water to saturate your masonry and loosen up the soot. Next, spray on the cleaner of your choice. Opt first for a mild cleaner like a gentle dishwashing liquid diluted in water.
If that doesn’t work and your bricks are less than 20 years old, try using something more acidic like distilled white vinegar. For older bricks, it’s best to let a professional handle a more intense cleaning. Some homeowners also claim gentle foaming bathroom cleaners work well, but be sure not to use bleach on your bricks. Use a wire brush to clean the fireplace soot, scrubbing in a circular motion.
3. INSPECT YOUR FIREPLACE
Over time, your fireplace masonry can begin to feel the effects of time just like your siding, roof, and windows can. It’s essential to address any masonry issues before they become serious since a damaged fireplace can easily become a safety issue. Every fall or spring, you should add fireplace inspection to your home maintenance checklist.
Take a walk around your home and survey the masonry from the ground. Do you notice any signs of shifting or settling? Are there cracks in the masonry? Next, survey the masonry from inside your home, checking out the attic as well. If you identify any potential problems, connect with a masonry contractor to schedule fireplace repair services right away.
4. SCHEDULE PROFESSIONAL FIREPLACE MAINTENANCE SERVICES
While it may be possible to identify obvious or extensive issues by surveying your masonry yourself, there is no substitute for a professional opinion. An experienced fireplace masonry contractor knows exactly what to look for, and they’ll be able to check out your fireplace more thoroughly inside the chimney. They can also check out your chimney cap to make sure it hasn’t been damaged from Minnesota’s intense freeze and thaw cycles and replace it if necessary.
Once a year, you should hire a professional masonry contractor to clean your fireplace and inspect it. Your fireplace contractor will perform a thorough inspection to identify and repair any safety hazards that could start a house fire down the road.
5. PREPARE THE AREA AROUND YOUR FIREPLACE
Before you reach for the matches and light that first toasty fire of the season, make sure the living space around your fireplace is ready for fireplace season. During the warm weather months when you’re not using your fireplace, you may have moved around your home furnishings.
Make sure there is nothing within a few feet of your fireplace that could catch fire, and clear away the area in front of your hearth. Anything flammable located too close to your fireplace could easily lead to a house fire. And while it’s a popular choice to place a television screen above the fireplace, exposure to the chemicals and heat from your fireplace can damage the equipment. Consider moving it elsewhere.
6. CHECK YOUR FIRE PREVENTION EQUIPMENT
Never start a fire without making sure your home is ready for an unexpected fire safety hazard. Taking those extra small steps to make sure you’re ready for a fire can mean the difference between a minor scare and a potentially life-threatening catastrophe. Before you start using your fireplace for the season, check the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors, and make sure to check them monthly while your fireplace is in use. Although your detectors should alert you when the batteries are low, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Additionally, make sure you’ve got a fire extinguisher on hand, and talk to your family about how to use it. Finally, go over your household fire safety escape plan so everyone in your home knows exactly what to do if there’s a fire.
CALL OUR MINNESOTA MASONRY CONTRACTORS
Has it been a while since you had your fireplace inspected or professionally cleaned? Don’t take a chance on your family’s safety this winter. Our experienced, knowledgeable masonry contractors at The Construction Group offer a complete range of fireplace cleaning and repair services throughout the Twin Cities area. Give us a call at 651-731-5857 or connect with us online to schedule your fireplace maintenance services.