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If you’ve used your fireplace much this winter, or if it has several winters of use, it might benefit from a facelift.
Here are some ideas for making your fireplace a glowing centerpiece of your house.
Replace your mantel. You can order pre-cut mantels in any price range and in materials ranging from hardwood to marble to plaster. This is a weekend job for a handy do-it-yourselfer.
Clean your fireplace and chimney. Wait at least a day after your last fire and shovel out the ash and unburned pieces of wood. Then sweep the interior of the fire box out. Make sure you use a metal bucket for gathering ashes in case an ember is still live.
Or, hire a chimney sweep and save yourself the trouble. Even if you’re not burning wood in your old fireplace anymore, give it a good cleaning.
Clean the brick or stone that surrounds your fireplace. If the brick is sealed, most of the soot should scrub off with detergent and a cloth. Tougher stains might require a mixture of ammonia and water with a stiff-bristle brush. Test a small area first to make sure the brush doesn’t damage the brick’s surface and the solution doesn’t discolor it. If your brick is unsealed or old, don’t scrub it; instead, just sweep it.
Replace your wood-burning fireplace with an electric model. You might feel some heat if you sit close to your wood-burning fireplace, but it’s not producing enough heat to help your furnace keep the house warm. In fact, it’s sucking your home’s heated air right up the chimney. Consider converting that energy-inefficient fireplace to an electric version. If you haven’t seen one in awhile, you’ll be amazed by how realistic its “flames” look, thanks to technological advancements.