How to Clean Radiators, Fireplaces, and Boilers - dummies

How to Clean Radiators, Fireplaces, and Boilers

By Gill Chilton

Cleaning radiators, fireplaces, and boilers (furnaces) are clearly tasks best done in the summer. Fireplaces can be a slog, but the rest are five-minute wonders.

Item Cleaning Method
Radiator Frequently vacuum the central grooves with the crevice tool of
your vacuum. To periodically dust the back, lay a cloth on the
floor under the radiator, tie a duster onto a measuring stick, and
use the stick to push dust down onto the cloth.

Be sure to take a look above your radiator at the same time: heat
can cause passing dirt to attach to the wall along here. Wash it
off with a soapy sponge.

Boiler (Furnace) There are no user-safe parts inside your boiler. A registered
professional should clean the inside as the major part of a
boiler’s annual service. Simply polish outside with a soft
Electric-fan heater Never get any electrical appliance wet. Hold the vacuum’s
crevice tool about 6 centimetres (2 inches) away from the unplugged
fan and move in the direction of the grooves/blades.

Frequently-used fireplaces need the grate cleaned frequently, but don’t fuss about getting out the fine, bottom layer of ash that can so easily spread into the air and on carpets. Do one total clear-out at the end of winter, when you won’t be using the fireplace again for some time.

Clean a fireplace only when you’re certain that the ash is utterly cold and can’t re-ignite. The morning after a cosy fire-lit evening is too soon. The fire may not have gone completely out until the small hours. Also take care in disposing of the ash.

To do the dirty deed, don gloves and a dust mask to protect yourself, and shut the room’s windows and doors.

Your big aim in cleaning the fireplace is to stop ash flying up to scatter over you and the room. Scoop or very gently brush the ash into an enclosed dustpan. Just dampening the dustpan helps the ash stick to it. To empty the dustbin, go outside and tip the ash into a sealable bag and put out with the rubbish.

HEPA vacuum filters are fine enough to filter ash dust, but don’t use them for that purpose. Ash can clog the machine.

To clean the hearth, using a stiff brush is always better than washing with water. So keep it dry to remove smoke and soot marks. You may have to be very persistent to get out large soot marks, but it can be done. Vacuum with the soft-brush attachment, then brush with a stiff-bristle brush.

If you are using your fireplace for open fires, have your chimney swept professionally at least once a year. This will improve efficiency, cut down on smoke in your home, and prevent chimney fires.

If staining that remains bothers you, wet the soot patch with water, then sprinkle on salt, let it dry, and brush off vigorously.

You’ll want to clean the fireplace surround once a year after you clean the fireplace itself. How you clean the surround depends on what it’s made of:

  • Brick: Use a specialised fireplace cleaner, then apply a brick/stone sealant.

  • Cast iron: Remove rust with wire wool (steel wool), then clean using a sponge dipped in soapy washing-up water. Rinse and dry promptly and thoroughly.

  • Ceramic tile: Use a mild abrasive cleanser on really dirty tiles, taking care not to scratch any glaze. Rinse the abrasive off, then dry and polish with a cloth.

  • Marble: Use a commercial polish specifically designed for marble annually. Products give either a matte or shiny finish. Do not use abrasives or chemical cleaners on marble as it’s very easy to damage the surface.

  • Stone: You can use a strong bleach solution if necessary, but test for colour fade on a hidden spot first. For speed, clean large areas using a sponge, then scrub at stubborn spots with a stiff brush.

Unused grates can get rusty over summer. So, after the last fire of the year, rub the grate with lubricant such as WD-40 to prevent the problem.