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Tips For Cleaning a Brick Fireplace

Chimney Sweep and Repair
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Many houses feature brick fireplaces. Bricklayers will often seal the bricks with masonry sealer to make them easier to clean. If not sealed, cleaning a brick fireplace isn't impossible but it will take more time and effort.

The first step to a clean brick fireplace is to remove any ashes from the firebox or ash pit. It is advisable to store ashes within a metal container until disposed of properly as ashes can stay hot and flammable for up to four days. A wet-and-dry vacuum can be used to clean up any remaining dust or small bits too small to sweep from the firebox and pit.

If your fireplace features glass fire screens, use a half-and-half mixture of white vinegar and water to prepare a streak-free cleaner. To remove smoke stains, prepare a bucket of clean water and a sponge, then apply water to the fireplace in sections, working from top to bottom as you go. This water preparation will prevent cleaners and solvents from soaking into the pores of the mortar and brick.

Cleaning brick that has been sealed is as easy as mopping a floor or vacuuming a carpet. Set your vacuum in had floor mode or use attachments to vacuum the interior of the fireplace. Sealed brick can be mopped with warm water. Dirt can be scrubbed with a scrub brush and a mild detergent.

If the brick hasn't been sealed, there are a few solutions that can be prepared for removing soot. An easy one to prepare would be a creamy mixture formed from a combination of a small amount of dish detergent with an equal amount of table salt. It can be applied to the brick, allowed to sit for ten minutes, then scrubbed with a stiff wire brush. Rinse well and let the fireplace dry before using.

Fireplaces that haven't been cleaned for a long time will need a much stronger solution to remove tough oil and soot deposits. One such would be a solution of Trisodium Phosphate (TSP). Combine 1 part TSP with 16 parts hot water. Wearing gloves, you can scrub the fireplace with the TSP solution and a nylon brush, then rinse thoroughly and repeat as necessary. For the environmentally conscious, a "green" alternative for TSP is household white vinegar.

Work on one section at time and rinse as you go along. Be careful of the mortar joints to avoid damaging the masonry or mantels since resurfacing fireplaces can be costly. When the mantel, hearth and external walls have been cleaned, move onto the firebox. Lastly, polish any metalwork.

Cleaning a brick fireplace is possible and inexpensive with a little effort and the right household supplies.

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