Now that the weather is starting to get cooler, your thoughts are probably starting to turn to evenings spent inside your house, sitting around the table and playing games with your family, helping the kids with homework, sharing stories about your day as you eat a meal together. Perhaps, doing it with a fire going in the background. Now is the perfect time to make sure that you have an adequate supply of seasoned wood. However, the more wood you burn, the more ash you’ll need to dispose of. It is okay to have some ash in your wood box, but if the ash starts to smell, it’s a good indication to clean it out.

Getting Rid of the Ash

a man inspecting a chimneyWhen it’s time to clean out the firebox, you may be tempted to clean it out completely. Keep in mind that a little ash isn’t a bad thing, about an inch of ash in the firebox actually helps to keep a good fire burning. The ash actually insulates the hot coals, adding more heat to the fire while reflecting heat back to the fire. It also adds protection to the bottom of the firebox.

About an inch of ash buildup is the perfect amount to sit in your fireplace. Any deeper than that isn’t beneficial to your fire, so you need to go ahead and clean it out. Before starting the cleanup process, let the ashes cool down completely. In fact, it’s a good idea to wait around 72 hours after your last fire to start cleaning. Ashes are light, and one way to help control this airy mess is to sprinkle some used coffee grounds down first to hold the ash down and mat it together. When this is done, use a fireplace shovel to scoop up the ashes and throw them into a metal bucket. Take the ashes outside and dispose of them in a burn barrel or firepit, or you can dispose them away from the house.

Clean the Surrounding Brick

You may notice that the fireplace brick is dark and sooty as well. A great way to clean this is by using cream of tartar and water. Use about two tablespoons of cream of tartar and enough water to make a thin paste. Spread this mixture on the bricks, let it set for about ten minutes, then rinse it off with warm water and a clean cloth. Repeat as necessary to get the bricks nice and clean.

Cleaning out the ashes is an important part of fire building, but don’t forget that there are other important upkeep for your fireplace as well. Give Old Dominion Chimney Service a call and set up a complete cleaning before winter hits!