On average, fireplaces should last between 10 and 15 years before you need to replace them. This depends a little on how much you use your fireplace and how well you look after it.
Regular fireplace maintenance is essential if yours is going to stand the test of time. With proper cleaning, yours could last up to 25 years, and cleaning your fireplace bricks is a big part of this!
So how do you clean fireplace bricks and when should you do this? Read on to find out everything you need to know about fireplace cleaning.
Why is it Important to Look After Your Fireplace Bricks?
Brick cleaning isn’t just important to keep your fireplace looking good. It means your fire burns better and doesn’t release dangerous carbon into the air. It also helps the bricks around your fireplace stand the test of time.
Over time, a build-up of soot on your bricks can damage their surface. This is because bricks are porous, which means they contain small pockets of air throughout.
If the surface of your fireplace bricks is weakened by soot, they can eventually start to crumble. This can also increase their risk of them causing dampness within your home.
Replacing the bricks in your fireplace will be a much bigger and more expensive job. In comparison, fireplace cleaning is relatively straightforward and doesn’t cost the earth.
You can clean your fireplace bricks after each use, although a lot of people don’t. Ideally, you should aim to do this at least once every six months. This will ensure your bricks stay in great condition so you can enjoy your fireplace for years to come!
Clear Out Your Fireplace
You need to use water to clean bricks so you should get rid of any remaining ash and debris. If this gets wet, it can create a sludge that is hard to clean away.
Make sure your fireplace is completely cool and then vacuum to get rid of any soot, ash, and dust.
Wet Your Bricks Before Cleaning Them
Before scrubbing your bricks, you should saturate them with water using a masonry sponge or spray bottle.
The bricks will absorb this water. This means that when you apply your cleaning products, they don’t sink into the bricks as well. As a result, it will be much easier to get rid of the soot and other debris.
You should also put down a waterproof mat so that it is easier to clean up afterward.
Choose a Brick Cleaning Solution
There is a whole range of things you can use to clean the surface of your bricks. Some are cheap products that you’ll already have in your home, while others are designed to remove tough stains.
The right product depends on how old your bricks are and how badly stained they are. You can always try a gentle solution to begin with and use stronger products if your bricks are still stained afterward.
Dishwashing detergent is a mild cleaner and a great place to start when cleaning your bricks. It is perfect to use on older, more fragile bricks.
To mix this solution, dilute a 1/4 cup of clear, grease-cutting detergent into four cups of water.
You can also use distilled white vinegar to clean your bricks. This solution is quite acidic, so make sure you don’t use it on bricks that are more than 20 years old.
Start by mixing equal parts vinegar and warm water together. You can also add a little dishwashing soap to this mix if you want, but don’t put too much in. Two tablespoons per gallon will be plenty.
Foaming Bathroom Cleaners
Foaming bathroom cleaners aren’t designed for brickwork, although some people swear by them. These are designed for nonporous surfaces though, so avoid using them on old brickwork.
You can apply these foaming agents directly onto the surface of your brick. Wait 15 to 20 minutes before scrubbing the bricks.
If you have a lot of stubborn stains on your fireplace bricks, you may need to use stronger cleaning agents. Here are three solutions you can use to clean stubborn brick stains:
- 2 tablespoons of borax mixed with 4 cups of water and a tablespoon of dish soap
- 1/2 a cup of ammonia mixed with four cups of water and a 1/4 cup of dish soap
- 1/8 cup trisodium phosphate (TSP) mixed with a gallon of hot water
These may not be suitable for use on fragile or older brickwork. They also contain strong ingredients so make sure you keep the room well-ventilated and wear gloves and eye protection when using them.
Scrub Your Bricks With Your Cleaning Products
You can apply your cleaning products using a sponge, paintbrush, or spray bottle.
Start by applying this to the bricks at the top of your fireplace and work down. This will stop dirty drips from running down onto bricks that you’ve already cleaned.
You should work in small sections to stop the solution from drying out or soaking into the brickwork. After scrubbing a small area, rinse it with clean water and a fresh sponge. You will probably need to change this water throughout the cleaning process.
If you notice any stubborn stains, you can clean the area again or spot-clean these with your solution. To spot-clean, apply your cleaning product in a specific area and leave it for 5 to 10 minutes before scrubbing it again.
Once your bricks are clean, spray them down with clean water and leave them to dry before using your fireplace.
Start Taking Care of Your Fireplace Bricks Today
As you can see, cleaning your fireplace bricks isn’t difficult or complicated. This will keep it looking smart and ensure that your fireplace lasts as long as possible. So what are you waiting for?
If you’re looking to replace an old fireplace in your home, Dreifuss Fireplaces is here to help. Check out our amazing range of wood-burning fireplaces now.