One of the latest trends in decorating is fireplace surrounds created from natural stone. This is a change from the brick fireplace surrounds that were popular not that long ago. However, stone surrounds, whether they are granite, limestone or slate, need to be cleaned more often than brick as microscopic pits on the surface can collect dust, dirt, soot and creosote. Of all the substances that should be removed from your fireplace, creosote is critical as build-up of the by-products caused by fire can lead to chimney fires. In addition, the substances can make your stone surround look dull. Cleaning them will bring your fireplace back to its beauty while also making it safer for your family.
The first thing to do is to prepare your living spaces to pre-clean the firebox and the surround in order to protect the rest of your home. You will need drop cloths, a plastic tarp, a small shovel and metal container. You will also need a mask and gloves to protect yourself. Plain water along with a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment will also be necessary.
Allow the fireplace to cool for at least 12 hours after you put out the last fire. Once the fireplace is completely cool, place the drop cloths on the floor around the fireplace to protect the floor and drape the tarp over furniture to protect them from the airborne dust that may be generated as well as any cleaning fluids that could splash in the room during the process.
Once the furniture and flooring are protected, it is time to protect yourself. Put on the gloves and mask to protect your hands and lungs from ash that may escape. Using the small shovel, scoop up the ashes that remain in the firebox and place them in the metal container. Once the ashes have been removed completely, fill the container with cold water and close it with a tightly-sealing lid. Carry the container outside and store it away from other flammable materials until you can discard the ashes properly.
Using the vacuum cleaner with the brush attachment, siphon dust from the surround. You want to start at the top and move to the bottom, dislodging any dust and debris. This helps remove any accumulation on the stone surface so your cleaning process goes much more quickly and smoothly.
Prepare to Clean the Stone
The next step is to gather the materials you will need to clean the stone. You will need a small bucket, dish soap and warm water. A wood stir stick, stiff-bristle scrub brush and two clean rags are also necessary. Don’t forget your gloves and mask as well. In the bucket, pour a quarter of a cup of dish soap in a quart of warm water. Stir the solution with the wood stir stick until the soap is completely dissolved.
Scrub the Stone
After putting on your gloves and mask, dip the scrub brush into the soap solution and scrub the soot, smoke and other substances from the inside of the fireplace before scrubbing the fireplace surround from top to bottom. Be sure to scrub any grout that is in the stone. Once you have scrubbed the entire fireplace, empty the soapy water and rinse the bucket.
Rinsing the Stone
Fill the bucket with fresh cold water. Saturate one of the clean rags with the cold water and then make one or two passes across the stone to wipe away any soap suds as well as any dirt or debris that remains. When it is clean, use the other rag to dab the fireplace dry to avoid water spotting. Let the entire fireplace air-dry completely before you ignite another fire.
How Often to Clean
It is usually enough to do this type of cleaning once each fireplace season but if you notice heavy or hard-to-remove pockets of dirt, you may need to do it more often. Deep cleaning should occur before the first fire of the season to be sure there is no creosote build-up near your fireplace. If you don’t use your fireplace very often, you can wait until there is a thicker layer, usually around one-eighth-inch, in the firebox before you do a deep cleaning.
Cleaning your fireplace and the surround will keep your fireplace looking beautiful for many years but it is also critical for the safety of you and your family. Allowing fire build-up to remain in your firebox or on the surround could be a fire hazard that may put you and your family in jeopardy. To learn more about stone fireplace surrounds, contact Flemington Granite today. You can speak to one of our friendly customer service staff by calling or filling out the easy online form. They will guide you through the process and help you find the perfect stone for your fireplace surround.