HAPPY HANDYMAN: Tips for sprucing up your fireplace before winter sets in

By this time last year I had already lit my fireplace. But this year temperatures haven’t justified a nice fire. But like everything else, the weather changes quickly. This article will give you a brief introduction to a clean running fireplace.

My fireplace is gas and I love that. I don’t have to worry about removing ashes and then dragging them around the house. My last house had a wood-burning fireplace, and if you have one, here are some quick tips.

We don’t burn our chimneys much in South Texas, but soot and creosote can still build up in the walls of the flue. Meeco makes a product just for that. C.

reo Shot is a plastic tube that you toss into a live fire and let burn for at least five minutes. It is completely safe as your hands never touch the product. If you have a missing mortar or a brick has come loose from your fireplace, use Meeco Furnace Cement and Fireplace Mortar. It is a high temperature cement that comes in a sealing tube. They can replace missing mortar and stabilize a loose brick.

If you have smoke stains around your chimney opening, TSP can be used to clean it. TSP comes in granules or a liquid. This is a heavy duty cleaner. Therefore, wear gloves and eye protection when cleaning. Look for TSP in your paint shop. Another choice is Chimney RX with the name Paint and Peel fireplace cleaner. It is simply painted on and left to dry overnight. Then pull it off the next day and watch the transformation. It’s more expensive but not that much work.

If you have gas logs, I have a few ideas to help you clean things up. If your logs look gray and dusty, use Meeco Masonry and Gas Log Cleaner to clean them. At the end of a good fire, turn off the gas and spray your logs on the base where there are debris. It removes dirt and grease from your logs and can be used on all types of masonry surfaces. If your stones need cleaning in the firebox, this product can be used. If you want to freshen up the stone in the firebox, spray it with a high heat spray paint. Cover up anything you don’t want to spray. Make sure you use a matte finish and water-based. Rustoleum does one.

If you have a wood stove or an insert with glass in the camp, use Meeco Glass Cleaner, which safely cleans the glass of smoke, soot, dirt and burnt-in creosote and tar deposits. If the glass is really dirty, it may need to be used twice. Just don’t let this product dry, spray or clean on the glass. Meeco also blackens a stove that is like a wax. Have your fireplace tools look new and freshened up outside of the wood stove.

If you have any questions, just give me a call at the San Antonio Store at 210-341-1573. If you miss your newspaper for a week or have a friend who does not live in Houston who gets the newspaper, you can always go to the website and read the article.

Now for the email …

question: Good morning, I enjoy reading your column in the Houston Chronicle, and now I have a question I can’t find in your book, The Best Of Johnnie Chuoke (which I refer to a lot!). The toilet lid in our trailer has a crack that is about 3 inches long. Maybe it was caused by someone standing on the toilet lid. Is there some kind of glue or a way to fix this? I try not to have to buy a new one.

reply: Since my daughter, husband and grandson toured the United States in an RV, I have received emails about life in RVs. I understand why you as an opponent want to repair to replace. You have a couple of options. JB Weld Plastic Bonder is a high strength bonder and is great for filling gaps. But it dries brownish. If you need white then use PC 11. It’s a two part epoxy. Just like JB Weld, it will fill in gaps and connect almost anything. I would still clamp this fix in place until the product hardens. They should be good until someone decides to use it as a step stool again.

If you can’t find the products listed here locally, please go to www.happyhandyman.com. Click Shop Johnnie’s Favorites or call the store at 210-341-1573. Email Trudy Chuoke Lesage at [email protected] Mail can be sent to Johnnie Chuokes Home and Hardware, 2361 NW Military, San Antonio, TX 78231.

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