Each fall, you should schedule a fireplace cleaning to get ready for winter and to reduce the risk of a chimney fire. Before the chimney sweep comes over, you can follow these instructions to prep the fireplace.
What You'll Need:
Old Bed Sheet
Dustpan and Whisk Broom
Bounty Paper Towel
Let the fireplace cool for 24 hours after having a fire before attempting to clean it. A brick-lined flue can stay hot for several hours after the last ember dies out. Once the fireplace has cooled, carefully remove all fireplace inserts; including heat reflecting panels and fireplace grates that hold the wood. Place these on an old bed sheet, just beyond the fireplace opening. They will be dirty and covered in soot.
Use a wet/dry vacuum on the dry setting to remove the buildup of ash. Make sure you have a filter attached to the vacuum, or you will spread tiny ash particles throughout the room during the fireplace cleaning. After removing the ash, dispose of it outside. Pour it directly into a compost pile, on a garden area, or into a waste can. Never dispose of hot ash—this is a fire hazard!
Sweep any remaining ash or soot from the fireplace using a fireplace broom, and then wipe as needed with a Bounty paper towel. By pre-cleaning your fireplace, the chimney sweep can access the chimney more easily and you can carefully remove most of the dirt from your home. The chimney sweep with do a thorough brushing of the entire length of the chimney, inspect for damage, and clean the inserts and the fireplace.