Home Inspection Insights

Lawrence M. Watkins, Specsure Property Inspections

Essential Fireplace Maintenance

 man cleans the furnace of fire with a spatula and brush on a long handle

Essential Fireplace Maintenance for Western New York Homeowners

 Building a cozy fire on a cold, blustery day helps make living in Western New York in the winter a little more enjoyable. Wood burning fireplaces can be especially delightful, creating a warm and welcoming ambiance in your Buffalo area home. To ensure your fireplace remains clean and safe, it’s essential to follow a few fireplace maintenance tips.


Before and After a Fire


Before you light a fire, check to ensure the damper is open so smoke and combustion gases can escape. After the fire is completely out and ashes are cold, close the damper to prevent the loss of heat from inside the house.

Fireplace Maintenance


Regularly clean ashes out of the firebox, or the area where the wood burns. When you’re using your fireplace consistently, it’s likely to need cleaning at least once a week. You can leave about one inch of ash to help coals heat up quicker and retain heat more easily during fire season, but clean it out completely when not in use.


It takes coals about three days to cool down enough to ensure they won’t start a fire, something to keep in mind when cleaning out the firebox. Never use a vacuum just in case the ashes contain live coals. Use a shovel to scoop ashes into a metal container, making sure you close the damper, open a window and wear a dust mask.


Other fireplace areas also require regular cleaning.


  • Glass doors can end up stained with thick deposits created by heat and flames. Make sure the glass is completely cool, then use a razor blade to scrape off the sludge. Follow up by spraying the glass doors with a cleaner consisting of warm water and dishwashing soap, then wiping them dry with a newspaper or other lint-free cloth.


  • Brass fireplace utensils can be spiffed up using commercial brass cleaner, or you can try Worcestershire sauce and a small brush.


  • Slate hearths can be kept clean by washing them with a mild detergent every six weeks. After rinsing and drying, wipe a bit of lemon oil on the slate using a soft cloth.


  • Brick hearths typically do best when cleaned with brick cleaner you can find at fireplace or home improvement shops.


Fireplace Inspections


As a leading home inspection company in the Buffalo area, we know how important regular inspections are for every aspect of the home. It’s no different for your fireplace. Fireplace inspections and chimney cleanings from a certified chimney sweep should ideally be scheduled once a year.


Regular maintenance can help ensure your fireplace is up and running cleanly and safely, providing the warmth you definitely need during Western New York winters.