LESLIE: Karen in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina needs some help with a fireplace project. Tell us what’s going on.
KAREN: Hi. I’ve got soot on my brick fireplace.
KAREN: And I wanted to know what the easiest way would be to get the soot off. It’s been on there perhaps more than a year or so. And you know, I want to do it right the first time.
TOM: Yeah, does it – you think it’s building up over this time? I’m wondering if you have a draft problem inside the house.
KAREN: I think I did. I’ve gotten rid of my wood-burning and I’ve converted to gas.
TOM: OK. And you did check to make sure that you don’t have any combustion issues with this, do you? Because we want to make sure that none of that gas is working its way back into the house.
KAREN: No, it’s pretty well open. The damper is not easily adjusted now.
KAREN: It’s pretty well open.
TOM: OK. Alright. Well, to clean the soot off of the bricks, what you could do is mix up a solution of trisodium phosphate and that’s available usually in the paint aisle.
TOM: It’s a cleaner – TSP. And you can apply that – you don’t have to make it – I don’t think that she has to make it too terribly thick, Leslie, for just a soot issue.
LESLIE: No, I would kind of keep it even a little bit more loose; maybe 1/4-cup of the cleanser to a gallon of water. Kind of follow the directions on the packaging but more wet than more solid because sometimes you can use that as a paste if you’ve got like an oil stain or something but you don’t need to be that serious.
And then, because it’s brick and it absorbs the cleaner so fast, you might want to spray it on rather than wiping it on.
LESLIE: And then you want to give it a good scrub. Maybe use a bristle brush but not like a metal one; something that will give it a little bit of abrasion but not too aggressive. And then you want to rinse it with a clean sponge and let it dry and that really should do the trick. But make sure you cover up everything around it because as you’re scrubbing it with the bristle brush, you might end up with little splatters and you don’t want to get anything on your furnishings.
KAREN: Seriously. (ph) OK, well that’s great. I wanted to do it right the first time.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.