What You’ll Need:
Where do I start?
Before you get all the ash cleaned up and the glass sparkling, its best to get the messy parts over with first. That means cleaning the flue or chimney. This is a good moment to think about your PPE, especially dust protection as cleaning a chimney or flue is messy stuff!
The main trouble causer here is a thick, black resin build up called Creosote which is a natural by-product of wood combustion. Over time it will build up with layers of ash and restrict the flue or chimney. You’ll notice that every time you open the fire door, smoke billows out into the room, and you just can’t get the fire going like you used to.
Creosote is also flammable, so if it should catch fire in the chimney; there is a very real risk of a house fire!
You can purchase a chimney sweep and do it yourself, or you may like to hire a professional to get it spotless for you.
Now onto the fire box itself
Time to scoop out that mess of creosote and ash. Pop a large bucket next to the fire, and scoop it all out using a dustpan or anything else you can find to suit the job. This can be disposed of in the garden either by tipping it in the compost, or spreading it lightly around the plants.
Have a look inside around the top of the fire and operate the fire damper lever. You should see the chimney area close off if it’s all working properly. Next you need to inspect the fire bricks. These are in place to shield a steel firebox from excess temperatures therefor making it last longer. They also reflect heat back into the firebox to ensure a hotter and more efficient burn. Just make sure they are all in one piece as they will crack and degrade over time. A few cracks is fine, but crumbling bricks with chunks missing will need replacement.
Sparkling clean glass
A dirty, sooty view of a dull flame doesn’t inspire much excitement does it? Soot, and wood resin can be removed from the glass easily with a clean cloth and some window cleaner if you do it regularly. If the glass is REALLY bad, soak it a couple of times with the citrus cleaner, then give it a gentle scrub with wire wool and it should come right off.
Making the firebox presentable
As your fireplace ages, so too will the deep black paint finish. You can make it look like a brand new fixture in your home again, but a splash of cheap matt black won’t do the job. If you’d like to freshen it up; here’s what you’ll need.
- A wire brush
- 400 grit sandpaper
- Wax and grease remover
- Masking tape and masking material (paper or plastic)
- Dupli-color high heat paint
First, tape and mask off any parts you don’t want painted. Include the walls and floor surrounding the fire area, you do not want overspray everywhere!
From here on you might like to pop on some gloves, and certainly a mask when it comes to painting. Don’t forget some safety glasses when using a wire brush too. Now clean the whole surface up with some wax and grease remover and a cloth, before moving on to the paint. One to two cans of paint should be enough for the two coats you require. You’ll need to allow an hour between each coat, after which you’re ready to ‘fire’ it up!
Finally, some tips for a healthy fireplace
When it comes to keeping your fire cleaner for longer, the best thing you can do is burn good quality wood. Soft woods like pine, or green wood puts off a lot of soot, resin and creosote which will stain the glass quickly; and clog up the chimney or flue. Same goes for newspaper and rubbish.
Another tip is to let your fire burn hotter. Choking it right down or just letting one log smoulder will increase these build ups as well.
Finally, drag your favourite chair over, pour yourself a drink; and enjoy the first of many evenings by the warm flicker and crackle of your fire.
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