Maintaining and Cleaning Your Outdoor Fireplace

Maintaining & Cleaning Your Outdoor Fireplace

Wood-Burning Fireplaces

  • Trim back plants, grass, trees, etc. from around the fireplace. Don’t plant or place planters next to the structure. Not only are they a fire hazard, but the plants could attach to the fireplace itself and weaken joints causing cracks and deterioration.
  • Remove ash, debris, and any unburned wood from the fireplace. Keeping the unit clean from ash and debris after each use can prevent a buildup of unwanted material and fire hazards. A broom can be used but a shop vac will ensure that the ash and debris don’t create a mess or just get smeared around.
  • Prevent mold, algae, and dirt from building up on the outside of the fireplace by using a stiff bristled brush and warm, soapy water to clean the outside surfaces. Trying to clean the inside of the fireplace can be difficult without the proper tools, equipment, and cleaners. Professional service is recommended in these cases.
  • The chimney and flue will need to be maintained very similarly to how an indoor fireplace would, and a professional contractor is recommended to prevent possible fire hazards.

Outdoor Gas Fireplaces

 VERY IMPORTANT FIRST STEP. Make sure the gas is turned off before attempting any cleaning or maintenance on an outdoor gas fireplace.

  • Inspect the exhaust fan to make sure it’s working properly.
  • Inspect the ventilation system to make sure it’s properly venting. If you think it may not be, have a professional inspect it.
  • Maintain the gas burners but clean them with a soft cloth and bristle brush. Your unit should have a manual with proper procedures and cleaning solutions, which you will want to follow so you don’t void the warranty.
  • Although much less ash and debris are found with gas systems, you will need to clean any fake logs with a soft-bristled brush at least once a month.

How to Remove Soot from a Brick or Stone Fireplace

The enjoyment of a fireplace can be dampened when black sooty buildup causes unsightly discoloration on the bricks or stones. Many different situations can cause soot and smoke to billow out of the fireplace. Over time, a dingy coating gradually thickens on the masonry until there are black stains in and/or around the fireplace. Many homeowners have lived with the ugly sight for years because they don’t think they have a choice. Cleaning off the black stains is not an impossible task, however. In fact, it can be relatively easy, if you have the right tools for the job and strength for serious scrubbing.

Tips for cleaning soot and smoke from a fireplace

When cleaning your fireplace, you’re exposed to soot that can irritate your skin and your lungs. It’s recommended that you wear gloves, protective eyewear, and a face mask of some kind, for safety’s sake.

There are a few things to do before scrubbing off soot from your fireplace masonry. If the ashes in the fireplace are completely cooled, you can start the dirty task. First, remove all of the ashes with the proper tools and equipment. Always remember that ashes are potentially very dangerous and can start fires, if not handled properly. After ashes have been removed, sweep out the firebox and, for a final touch, use a brush attachment on your vacuum.

If you’re scrubbing inside the fireplace, you may want to use some type of cushioned kneeling board, though a folded towel can help keep pressure off your knees during the task.

Cleaning formulas to remove soot and smoke residue

With each fireplace installation, we provide a recommended cleaning product to clean your outdoor fireplace or fire pit.

There are also some old-fashioned formulas below for removing smoke and soot residue from your fireplace. Each of the following approaches to cleaning off soot include using a stiff brush to scrub off the blackened stains. These techniques rely on good ole’ elbow grease to get the job done:

  • 1st Formula: Create a thick mixture using detergent or soap, pumice, hot water, and a small amount of ammonia. Apply the mixture to the stained surface and let it dry. Next, rub off the mixture with a web scrub brush to remove the sooty  mess.
  • 2nd Formula: Mix one ounce of table salt, one ounce of soap, and enough water to create a cream mixture. Use a cloth to rub the mixture onto the stained masonry. Next, let the mixture dry for a minimum of 10 minutes. Finally, scrub with a stiff brush.