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How to Keep Your Outdoor Fireplace Safe and Clean This Summer

Long summer days call for enjoyable summer nights relaxing by your outdoor fireplace. With a few tips and tricks, you can keep your outdoor fireplace in clean and safe condition for entertaining guests — and identify when to call in a licensed professional to help.

How to clean an outdoor wood-burning fireplace

What you’ll need:

  • A broom or shop vac
  • A creosote sweeping log
  • A bucket of warm, soapy water
  • A stiff-bristled brush

Cleaning out an outdoor wood-burning fireplace is relatively simple. Your first point of order should be clearing out any ash or leftover burned wood from the fireplace. You can do this with a broom, or with a shop vac for a more precise clean.

Next you’ll want to tend to any creosote buildup that has accumulated during use. If the creosote buildup in your fireplace is thicker than ⅛ of an inch, it’s a serious fire hazard. Do not use your fireplace until after it’s been professionally serviced.

If the creosote is less than ⅛ of an inch thick, you may be able to use a creosote sweeping log to loosen up the buildup. Creosote sweeping logs aren’t a replacement for proper service from a trained professional, but they may keep creosote from building up to dangerous levels.

Depending on the climate where you live, your wood-burning fireplace might also be home to algae, mold or dirt. While there are a number of specialty products on the market that can help you bring the inside and outside of your fireplace back to pristine condition, a bucket of warm, soapy water and a stiff-bristled brush may do the trick just as well.

How to clean an outdoor gas fireplace

What you’ll need:

  • A shop vac
  • A soft-bristled brush or soft cloth

A quick safety note before you begin: make sure your gas is shut off before doing any cleaning or maintenance to your outdoor gas fireplace. Close the gas valve and power down the unit, if applicable.

Gas fireplaces produce much less ash and debris than a wood-burning fireplace, but a small amount of buildup isn’t out of the ordinary. As your first step in cleaning your outdoor gas fireplace, use a shop vac to clean out any debris that’s built up in recent months.

Turn your attention to any fake logs and burners in the interior of your gas fireplace. After you’ve gone over them with a shop vac, it’s not a bad idea to follow up with a soft-bristled brush or soft cloth to remove stubborn ash and soot. A little bit of attention every month can keep these elements clean and safe.

Perhaps most importantly, take a look at your outdoor gas fireplace’s ventilation and exhaust fan. If you notice any damage or any components not working properly, call a trained professional. We can help restore these parts to safe, working order.

Survey your fireplace’s surroundings

Spring and summer have likely brought your yard to bloom. While you’re taking in the beauty of new flowers and growth from plants in your yard, make sure that they aren’t encroaching on your outdoor fireplace.

The common safety recommendation is to keep anything flammable more than three feet away from your fireplace. Foliage and furniture are at risk of catching fire if a stray ember pops out from your fireplace, which can happen even if you have a screen in place.

When to call in an expert

With help from this guide, you can maintain your outdoor fireplace to the best of your ability. That said, even the best maintained outdoor fireplaces can still pose a fire hazard if you’re not trained to spot potential dangers.

We recommend having a trained professional service your outdoor fireplace at least once a year. We can give due attention to the hard-to-reach areas of your fireplace that you may not be able to properly clean yourself. Our team can use specialty cleaners to remove creosote and other buildup that may pose a risk to the health and safety of you and your guests.

With regular maintenance on your part coupled with annual professional service, we can pave the way for many years of enjoyment for your outdoor fireplace. When you’re ready for service — or if you have any questions about your outdoor fireplace — don’t hesitate to reach out!

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