A masonry fireplace, also known as a brick fireplace, is more than just bricks as the name suggests. It is important to know the parts of a masonry fireplace. This article will help you quickly tell which part has issues that need repairs or inspection by a professional fireplace chimney sweep.

Here is a guideline that can keep you informed.

  • The Mantle
    • See that photo of you and your kid sister that you took during her wedding? Or the trophy you won in High school? Now that place above the fireplace is where to keep them. It is called the mantle.
  • The Throat
    • The throat is the place at the damper that allows smoke to pass through
  • The Hearth
    • The hearth is the bottom of the firebox
  • The Firebox
    • The firebox is where you build the actual fire.
  • The Hearth extension
    • The hearth extension should not be confused with the hearth. It protects the place directly in front of the fireplace from heat, wild sparks and ash. Dogs love this area especially when the fire is burning.

How To Do a Fireplace Chimney Sweep

The conventional brick fireplaces are still a popular fireplace and if you just bought a house with one and are wondering how to clean it before you light that fire, here are a few tips.


Smoke and soot stains are stubborn and can be can be difficult to remove. Whatever you decide to use and in whichever way, we advise that you test it on a small and not very visible part just to be sure the solution will not damage the bricks.

Soap and Abrasives

When you use soap and an abrasive like salt or ash to soak the dirt, wear gloves (rubber) and goggles. You will need salt, liquid soap, stiff brush and water. Mix the soap and salt together until a creamy solution forms. Use a cloth to rub the solution into the brick and give it eight to fifteen minutes to dry. Use a proper stiff-bristled brush to rub off the dry solution off the wall. You can repeat severally depending on how dirty the bricks were.


Ammonia works in the same way as soap and abrasive work, only household ammonia is a harsher chemical and should be handled with caution. It can corrode the bricks especially if they are old bricks.

While wearing protective rubber gloves and goggles, mix soap, ammonia and hot water in equal measures. Rub into the brick. This time, give it an hour then scrub off.

Ammonia and Naphtha

Naphtha is a laundry soap that if added to ammonia can do amazingly well in cleaning soot. It can be bought online but will have to be melted before you can use.

You’ll need a bar of Naphtha Laundry Soap, ammonia, a household detergent and a large old pan and water. Put the soap inside the old pan, add water and allow to boil until the soap melts. Allow the mixture to cool then add a cup of the household ammonia, pumice powder and make into a paste. Be careful when doing this as Naphtha can be dangerous without gloves and can be flammable! For a proper and safe fireplace chimney sweep rather hire a professional than endangering yourself and your family.

Rub the mixture into the brickwork and allow to dry for at least an hour. Use the brush to scrub it off the wall. Residue can be rinsed off using warm water.

Prefabricated fireplaces

Prefabricated fireplaces are meant for small recreational fires and not long-running, large fires synonymous with masonry and brick fireplaces. Prefab fireplaces require more specialized care than masonry. Without proper care, pieces of the chimney can deteriorate beyond repair.  It is also important to make sure you are caring for your fireplace properly.

It is advisable that you enlist a professional chimney sweep to inspect and sweep your chimney. Professionals are recommended since they can they can notice things that your layman eyes might dismiss but which can be fatal. They also can clean with minimum or nil mess. For preparation, ensure the fire is totally extinguished and do not use the fireplace at least 24 hours before the professional fireplace chimney sweep.

Cover the floor surrounding the fireplace so that when soot and create loosens from the chimney, they do not fall on the carpet or furniture. Chimney sweepers have powerful vacuums that can suck up the debris easily.

Winter and the holidays are here. You could be planning to host family and friends and nothing would make such a gathering livelier than a warm fire. But, before you get the flames crackling and roaring, be sure the fireplace and chimney are safe and ready for use.

Do not put your family’s life at risk, schedule an inspection and fireplace chimney sweep by filling out the form below today!