Removing Soot from Fireplace Hearths

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Living in a house with a fireplace is a real treat during the cold winter temperatures we have been faced with over the past few months. As the temperatures dip below freezing and into what can only be described as frigid, fireplace heat has been what many of us relied upon to keep warm. Burning fireplaces can save money on heating costs, but they can also be messy, and as warmer weather nears, the time to clean that mess up is fast approaching.

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You may have noticed an accumulation of soot and smoke residue around the exterior upper portion of your fireplace. This is an unfortunate part of the mess associated with fireplaces. Depending on the composition of your fireplace, cleaning it may be easy or it may require some extra elbow grease. Speaking of grease, the ideal cleaners for removing soot and smoke from the face of a fireplace are degreasers since the composition of smoke and soot is that of a grease. Thus, a good cleaner to use for this purpose is TSP, or trisodium phosphate.

TSP comes in a powder and, in order to be able to use it for fireplace cleaning, will need to be made into a paste. This can be done by adding a little bit of water, just enough to make its consistency sticky enough to adhere to the fireplace hearth without running. If your fireplace has a face made of ceramic tile, all it takes is a scrubbing sponge to get the job done, but for brick veneers, a stiff bristled brush may be in order.

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Simply apply your TSP paste to the fireplace and give it a thorough scrubbing. You should notice quite quickly a change in color as the smoke and soot wash away. Once you have completely removed unsightly stains, just give your fireplace a wipe with a clean sponge or rag to remove any lingering TSP residue. All that is left to do is let your fireplace face air dry and it is ready to be used once again, or to go on vacation until next winter, whichever applies in your particular case.

Having a clean fireplace face will brighten the room and instantly improve the appearance of your hearth. If the backing is white, a change will be particularly noticeable. On brick, the transformation may not be quite as dramatic, but an impressive change will take place nonetheless. In addition to having a clean fireplace to admire, you can at the same time eliminate the possibility of curious children or even yourself rubbing up against a dirty fireplace face and blackening clothing in the process. Not much is better than both a win for the fireplace and the laundry basket at the same time; just ask Santa!

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