Tips On Cleaning and Maintaining An Outdoor Fireplace

Posted by Bert Staiger on

An outdoor fireplace, if properly maintained, can create a perfect focal point in your backyard landscape and add resale value to your property. According to a report, homeowners recoup almost 80% of the costs of building a firepit.

Outdoor fireplace and grill

The coziness and comfort of a fireplace on a winter night are just a few benefits. Having a fireplace on your patio or entertaining outdoor area gives your yard an inviting, friendly feel similar to indoor living spaces. It adds ambiance and beauty to your outdoors while providing a fun spot where you can spend time with family or host guests.

The cleaning part, however, is one of the challenges of ensuring your fireplace provides years and years of comfort and entertainment. While outdoor fireplaces don't need much maintenance to be enjoyable, regular upkeep will ensure you get long-term usage out of your pit. A well-built hearth can last as long as it gets proper care and cleaning.

Why Do Outdoor Fireplaces Need Cleaning?

Outdoor Fireplaces need cleaning

Regular maintenance is one of the ways to ensure your outdoor fireplace and grill function properly, looks great, and retain a solid framework. It must be dry, have the right ash level, and be debris-free.

However, the requirements and maintenance steps you take depend on the type of fireplace, its materials, and how long you've bought it. For instance, a wood-burning fireplace has different steps than cleaning a gas fireplace. Since propane and natural gas are clean burning gas fire sources, they might not produce the same waste products as wood. Still, while gas fireplaces don't produce creosote, they have buildup that requires clearing away.

One major problem with outdoor fireplaces is their exposure to the element. Unlike protected indoor fireplaces, your outdoor fireplace needs adequate cleaning and regular maintenance.

How Often Should You Clean Your Outdoor Fireplace?

how to use outdoor fireplace

Many factors contribute to how dirty your fireplace will get and how often you need to rid it of dirt. The recommended practice is to clean it after each usage. While cleaning it after every use isn't mandatory, cleaning the wood-burning area of your fireplace will help maximize the quality of each burn. It is also advisable to sweep and vacuum it out regularly. Most importantly, periodically invite an expert for a thorough check by searching online for "fireplace maintenance near me."

When it comes to how to use an outdoor fireplace, consider early spring or after the busiest burning months for your annual fireplace cleaning. Taking care of your fireplace maintenance when it's warm outside means you can avoid cold nights in winter. You will be assured your fireplace is set for the cold season.

In addition, clean your fireplace in the house when it has been dormant for a long time: For instance, if your outdoor fireplace has sat dormant for a long, there is a chance it needs a little prep before firing it up again. You'll need to ensure a clean, safe burn that your guests will enjoy. Finally, call in an expert outdoor fireplace repair once in a while for professional maintenance.

How to Clean An Outdoor Fireplace?

One of the finest ways to make your work easier is by buying a basic fireplace toolkit. A typical set should have an ash scoop, a long poker, and log tongs. This will make everyday cleaning of your fireplace easier. As such, regular cleaning is a crucial part of how to use an outdoor fireplace.

Here's how to clean different types of fireplaces:

A. How to Clean a Wood Fireplace

how to clean an outdoor fire pit

Wooden fireplaces are trendy among buyers due to their environmentally friendly attributes and cost efficiency. They are also aesthetically appealing.

 Follow these tips to maintain a fireplace that burns wood as fuel:

  • Remove debris, ash, and any unburned wood. This can help prevent a buildup of unwanted material and fire hazards.
  • Mix some soap in warm water and dip in a stiff-bristled brush to clean the outside surfaces to prevent algae, mold, and dirt from building up outside the fireplace.
  • Cut back any plant beginning to overgrow around the bricks.

B. How to Clean Gas Outdoor Fireplaces

First, turn off the gas before attempting any cleaning or maintenance on an outdoor gas fireplace.

Next, follow these steps:

  • Inspect the ventilation system to ensure it's working correctly. If you think there's an issue, have a professional inspect it.
  • Clean the gas burners carefully with a soft cloth and bristle brush. Ensure you follow a manual with proper procedures and cleaning solutions.
  • Clean any fake logs with a soft-bristled brush to remove ash and debris from the gas systems.
  • It's best to switch off the fireplace's pilot light if it isn't used for a long time.
  • Call in an outdoor fireplace repair annually for expert checks. You can find an expert by searching online for "fireplace maintenance near me."

How to Clean a Fire Pit?

Fireplace maintenance near me

Your cleaning materials and method can sometimes depend on the type of fire pit:

1. Metal Fire Pits:

Metal fire pits must be empty, dry, and clean when you're not using them. Take it indoors or cover it to protect it from moisture and rust. For durability, it's best to go for a reputable brand such as Bonfire grills. Follow these steps to clean a metal fire pit thoroughly:

  • Empty the ash
  • Mix a cleaning solution of dishwashing liquid and warm water
  • Use a soft sponge dipped in the cleaning solution to scrub the firepit's interior and exterior.
  • Clean the cover of the firepit, too (if there's one)
  • Spray the firepit with water from a garden hose to rinse it
  • Dry the pit properly with old towels to prevent rust from forming
  • Add a smokeless fireplace insert to reduce smoke.

2. Masonry Fire Pit

These are made of brick, stone, or concrete. So you can scrub a masonry fire pit with a stiff-bristle brush.

  • First, empty the ashes (let them cool down completely before removing the ashes from the pit)
  • Scoop the ashes with a shovel or trowel and place them in a metal bucket.
  • Mix a cleaning solution of 9-parts water with 1-part muriatic acid. Next, rinse it with water, and leave it to dry for at least 48-72 hours.
  • Dip a scrub brush in the cleaning solution and scrub the rock, brick, or cement blocks (wear rubber gloves and eyeglasses for protection)
  • Rinse the fire pit by spraying it with a hose
  • Leave it to dry for 48-72 hours before use.
  • Use a smokeless fire pit insert to minimize smoke.

3. Gas Pits

Gas fire pits offer cleaner burn than wood, making it a great choice, especially if it's a reputable brand such as Bonfire grills.

Follow these steps to clean the gas pit:

  • Remove debris like twigs and dead leaves before and after use.
  • Mix a cleaning solution of soapy water, and wipe down the exterior of the fire pit.
  • Put the sponge in clean water and wipe away the residue
  • Use a dry towel to dry and buff the exterior finish.
  • Ensure a gas technician cleans the gas jets yearly.

Other Fire Pit Maintenance Tips

Smokeless Fire pit insert

Fire pits maintenance is a bit different from a fireplace. But like its cousin, a firepit can benefit from regular maintenance:

a. Remove the Ashes

The acidic nature of fire ash can lead to long-term damage, slowly destroying the walls of your pit. Gather the ash with a shovel and leave it for a few days in a metal bucket before disposing of it. Remember that hot ash can take a few days before cooling down, so you shouldn't dispose of it immediately or keep it in a plastic bucket.

b. Avoid Sudden Temperature Shifts During Use

Flooding your fire with water may create loud, hissing steam and damage it. The sudden temperature shifts may also crack the warm stones. Allow fires to subside naturally, but use water to put out some stubborn embers.

c. Don't Burn Trash as Fuel

It's best to burn only mature wood. Avoid burning trash as your fuel source so as not to expose yourself and others nearby to harmful toxins. Another thing to avoid is fire accelerants if you want your fire pit to be long-lasting. Accelerants can cause fires to rage out of control and discolor your fireplace.

d. Patch Up Cracks

Cracks can weaken your fireplace's structure or damage it. So, it's best not to wait until small cracks become deep. Examine your fire pit regularly to discover any cracks along your pit.

e. Use a Cover

Covering your fire pit is one of the ways to make it last longer. Once your pit has cooled down, cover it to protect it from sunlight, wildlife, and rain. Shielding your fireplace from the elements will help prevent discoloration and rust.

f. Trim Plants Near the Fireplace

Overgrowth can pose a fire hazard if it's close to a fireplace. And that's one of the problems with outdoor fireplaces. Ensure you keep the area around the fire pit clear of plants and trees to prevent the fire from spreading. This is especially important in the dry summers or the fall, when fallen leaves and dry grass can become an immediate fire hazard. Use non-combustible landscaping elements, such as river rocks, bricks, or pavers, instead of grass or shrubs.

Another way is to avoid planting close to the fireplace if possible. Climbers and shrubs can mainly be dangerous to the fireplace. They may attach themselves to it, getting into the joints or creating cracks, resulting in deteriorating protective materials.

g. Maintain Your Fireplace Surrounding

The recommended practice is to check the area surrounding your fireplace once a year, giving it a good clean. Looking after the main surrounding of your fireplace can help keep it in good condition for many years. Brush off the surface and clean with a soapy mixture to remove natural growth or moth on your fireplace. Then, fill any cracks in the cement to prevent water from getting in and worsening.

General Fireplace And Firepit Best Practices

outdoor fireplace repair

  • Wait until after the fire has burned out before cleaning
  • Discard the ashes in a metal container as far from your house as possible.
  • Spray down your fireplace area and clean it off with materials of your choice.
  • Outdoor fireplace maintenance by a professional is advisable once a year to ensure your fireplace is running correctly and preventing the danger of fire hazards.
  • Before installing a new fireplace, place it both logically and aesthetically. For instance, a fireplace in a windy area could cause ash and embers to blow around. Besides, it could cause unwanted debris to blow into the fireplace.
  • If the fireplace is exposed to rain, place a splash guard or protective mate directly outside the opening to keep the patio from being stained with puddles of ashy water.
  • Never clean out your fireplace with your bare hands. Fireplace ashes and coals can be hot and flammable for up to a week after being burned.
  • Don't use accelerants when building a fire to reduce creosote buildup. Store portable fire pits in a covered area when you won't be needing them for a long time.

In Conclusion

No matter your protection and maintenance, far more potential factors can dirty an outdoor fireplace and grill. Fortunately, you won't require a lot of special tools to clean a fireplace. The tips in this article will help you get started in no time. And while cleaning a fireplace can be a bit of work, the experience is worth it. Besides being a part of your home's ambiance, an outdoor fireplace adds to your property's value and, as such, requires adequate care and maintenance.

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  • Our fireplace has cracks, and it’s inconvenient to use, especially during winter. My husband wanted to hire a fireplace maintenance service to solve our problem. As you mention, Cracks can weaken or harm the structure of your fireplace. As a result, it is recommended not to wait until little fractures become large. Examine your fire pit regularly to look for cracks. Winter is almost coming, so we plan to get it fixed as soon as possible before the cold weather season.

    Marie Claire on

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