How To Clean A Fireplace Insert

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Fireplace inserts became popular back in the 1970s, during the oil crisis in the US. Wood being readily available in those days, homeowners were asked to promote wood-burning insert in the fireplace to save some money. And since then, the popularity of such inserts is unstoppable.

However, people have raised concerns that the maintenance and cleaning of a fireplace insert require too much effort.

How To Clean A Fireplace Insert

Cleaning the fireplace insert might seem tiring with the traditional methods. But, when you master the techniques, you realize the convenience. It is because poor maintenance can lead to house fires and even worse scenarios. Therefore, you need to learn how to clean a fireplace insert.

Living room with a fireplace in need of cleaning

Method 1: Cleaning With Liquid Dishwashing Soap & Baking Soda

The more often you clean your fireplace insert, the easier it will be for you to maintain it over time. So, it would be best to keep in mind that you can’t ignore the cleaning process because it is a dirty job. It’s been noticed that many people do not wish to put their hands into it.

But, professional fireplace insert cleaning comes at a high price. Hence, get your hands dirty and do it yourself to save some bucks.

Step 1: Prepare The Area To Limit The Cleaning Mess

  1. You will need newspapers or a plastic tarp for this purpose.
  2. Spread either several layers of newspapers or a plastic tarp on the fireplace front.
  3. It is to keep the floor neat while executing the cleaning process.
  4. Now, clear out all the grates, tools, and woods from the area before proceeding further.

Step 2: Scoop Out The Debris Or Ash

  1. You will need a small shovel for this purpose.
  2. Use it for scooping out any of the debris or ash within the fireplace.
  3. Check for large piles of dust & dirt. (Regular cleaning will eliminate the piling of debris or dust)
  4. Now, use a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment for cleaning the surroundings and inside area of the fireplace.
  5. The goal of this step is to remove all the loose debris from the fireplace.

Step 3: Scrub Inside Area of The Fireplace Insert

  1. You will need one heavy-duty brush with wires and a small wire brush for the purpose.
  2. Preferably, use a heavy-duty brush for scrubbing the inside region of the fireplace.
  3. Pay a little more attention to remove all the baked debris or creosote from inside.
  4. Now, use a smaller wire brush for removing debris and dirt off the insert door & hinges.
  5. Loosen all the debris or dirt stuck around the exterior.
  6. Now, use a vacuum cleaner to suck out all of the loosened dirt, debris, and creosote.

Step 4: Prepare Soap & Baking Soda Solution

  1. Take one gallon of water in a large container
  2. Add a teaspoon of dishwashing soap to it.
  3. Now, add a half-cup of baking soda into the mixture.
  4. Mix the solution well.

Step 5: Clean Fireplace Insert with The Solution

  1. You will need a rag for this.
  2. Submerge the rag into the cleaning solution.
  3. Now, use it to scrub inside and outside of the fireplace insert.
  4. Do the scrubbing thoroughly, and concentrate while scrubbing the vents and grates.
  5. Keep repeating the process by changing rags when one gets too dirty.
  6. Remove all the gunk from in and around the fireplace insert using the solution.
Fireplace being used

Step 6: Rinse With Clean Water

  1. Keep another bucket full of clean water right beside you.
  2. Use clean rags to rinse the fireplace insert with the help of water. 
  3. Rinse the surface thoroughly to remove remnants of baking soda and dishwashing soap solution.
  4. Use a clean cloth to dry the fireplace insert afterward.
  5. It would be best if you used multiple clean and dry cloths to soak out all moisture thoroughly from the fireplace insert.

Step 7: Clean Glass Features With White Vinegar

Glass features of the fireplace insert need separate cleaning as they are delicate to handle. Here’s what you need to do for cleaning them:

  1. Fill white vinegar solution in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray it over the glass features of a fireplace insert.
  3. Use a microfiber cloth to remove dirt, dust, debris, and grime off the surfaces.
  4. If the debris is caked, you need to brush it out before using cloth and its solution.

After this cleaning method is complete, you can discard all the newspapers or the plastic tarp. Now, you can place back the tools, logs, and grates to their original spots. Do a final vacuuming around the fireplace insert to suck out any leftover mess.

Tip!

Check for the warranty on your fireplace insert. In case your warranty still exists, you do not need to attempt any cleaning measures. The company will do it as per warranty rules.

Get a better idea of the cleaning steps by taking a closer look at this video which describes the thorough process.

Method 2: Cleaning With Soap, Salt & Water

If you wish to carry out an even easier cleaning method, then soap, salt & water will do the job. Check out the below steps:

  1. Spread newspapers on the fireplace insert front.
  2. Mix equal parts of soap and salt into the water in a container.
  3. Stir it well until it forms a creamy cleaning solution.
  4. Ensure that the mixture is not watery and is a paste.
  5. Use a towel to coat this paste on the bricks.
  6. Let the paste soak for around 10 minutes.
  7. Use a brush with firm bristles for scrubbing the bricks.
  8. It will clean off the dirt, dust, and caked debris off the fireplace insert.
  9. Now, rinse the surface with clean water and a clean rag.
  10. Rinse it thoroughly to remove remnants of the cleaning mixture.
  11. Use a clean towel to dry the insert.
  12. Throw away the newspapers after the cleaning process.

Method 3: Cleaning An Electric Fireplace Insert

Nowadays, electric fireplace inserts are also in trend. Also, the cleaning process is different from that of wooden inserts. Electric fireplace inserts are vent-less, as they do not need any outside ventilation.

Electric fireplace

They run on a power supply and are pretty easy to install & maintain. And, if you have an electric one, then this guide has got you covered as well. Here are the steps for cleaning:

Step 1: Disconnect It From The Power Supply

  1. Ensure that you have disconnected the electric fireplace insert, few hours before the cleaning session.
  2. It is to allow the insert to cool down, thereby making it easy for you to clean.
  3. It is better to remove the plug from the sockets, to avoid any risk of shocks.

Step 2: Cleaning Of The Heater or Insert

  1. Start cleaning with the inside of the electric heater.
  2. Use a clean & dry cloth. (Preferably cotton).
  3. Wipe the surface wall of the fireplace insert.
  4. Keep the wiping motion a bit gentle.
  5. Now, use a soft brush for cleaning the outlet of the electric insert.
  6. Remove all the carbon residues and robust debris from the surface.

Step 3: Cleaning Of The Glass Features

  1. Check the user manual to remove glass panels from the insert.
  2. Now use a soft cotton cloth to wipe both sides of the glass.
  3. Avoid using abrasive wipers or strong cleaners on the glass body.
  4. Use a soft duster to dust off the dirt and dust.

There isn’t much necessity of any cleaning solution for maintaining the electric fireplace inserts. It is because they do not accumulate caked debris like the wooden ones. Therefore, simple and routine cleaning is sufficient for the purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Water To Get Rid Of Running Fire Right Before Cleaning The Insert?

No, you should not douse the fire with any liquid until it’s an emergency. If you are extinguishing fire with water, it will turn the ashes into a paste that will be very difficult to clean. For more such tips on cleaning the fireplace insert, you can check out this link.

How Frequently Should The Fireplace Insert Be Cleaned?

You must clean the fireplace insert thoroughly, at least once every year, if you are using it only in winters. However, if you live in a cold region where you need a fireplace insert throughout the year, you might have to clean it more than once in 365 days. But in most cases, it is better to get the fireplace insert clean before the burning season.

Conclusion

Take up the opportunity to save money on hiring professionals by carrying out the cleaning process of the fireplace insert all by yourself. Don’t wait and start the cleaning process! This guide will help you keep the fireplace insert clean to avoid any fire hazards due to creosote glaze or soot build-up.