If you live in a big house built at least 30 years ago, there’s a great chance you have a brick fireplace. Although slowly declining in popularity among new homeowners, no one can deny how these fireplaces make classical homes look.
Brick fireplaces were not just a statement of class and aesthetic beauty, but also very effective in heating small and large homes. They still are.
But, as with all fireplaces, one important subject is cleaning a brick fireplace, especially with muriatic acid. How is it done? Is muriatic acid effective for cleaning brick fireplaces? We’ll answer these questions and more as we move along.
How Effective Is Muriatic Acid in Cleaning a Brick Fireplace?
Muriatic acid is very effective in cleaning a brick fireplace. They are great for giving bricks an acid bath to remove tough stains and soot.
Muriatic acid is simply a type of hydrochloric acid that is recommended as a last resort for cleaning due to its hazardous nature. It is not advisable to have muriatic acid in the house, especially if you have kids or pets.
However, when it becomes absolutely necessary as a result of creosote building up on the inside of your fireplace or soot and tough stains that may distort the appearance of your fireplace, you may need to use muriatic acid.
Creosote buildup, if unchecked, can lead to fire incidents and must be removed. Creosote in chimneys and brick fireplaces is a common phenomenon that soap and water alone may not be able to remove.
One reason muriatic acid is very effective in cleaning masonry is its ability to neutralizer alkalinity. Alkalinity can burn off or discolor paint finishes on bricks, but with muriatic acid, this alkaline is not only washed off, the paint finish is preserved for many years.
So, whether it’s deoxidizing, cleaning or removing mold from brick fireplaces, muriatic acid can do the trick when all else fails.
How To Clean a Brick Fireplace with Muriatic Acid?
As long as you follow prescribed Precautions, it is quite easy to use muriatic acid to clean your brick fireplace. Although hazardous when in contact with skin, eyes, cloth and even plastic, it is still a milder variant of hydrochloric acid.
1. A Gallon of Muriatic Acid
Typically, a gallon of Muriatic Acid like the Clean-Strip Green product cost around $20. Some may be as cheap as $10 while others may be slightly more expensive.
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Never use muriatic acid by itself. You’ll need a lot of water, usually 10 times the amount of muriatic acid you’ll use. You should have a large container of water or a connected hose nearby in case of accidents.
3. Spray Bottle
This is something you probably already have in your home. You’ll need more than one if it is a large area that needs cleaning, because the plastic is likely to deteriorate quickly once the acid is poured into the water.
It is important you purchase a brush that has a long handle so as to avoid contact with the chemical as much as possible. Some products are sold along with brushes too.
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5. Protective Gloves
You should get heavy-duty gloves specifically designed to protect against contact with acid. The Jewboer 18″ Heavy Duty Rubber Gloves are waterproof, chemical and muriatic acid-resistant and safe for use.
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6. Half Facepiece and Goggle
This set is to help protect your eyes against contact with the acid, as well as your nostrils and lungs due to inhalation of the poisonous fume from the acid. A good recommendation is the KISCHERS Reusable Half Facepiece and Anti-Fog Safety Goggle Set.
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You can have a garden lime or baking soda nearby in case there is a need to neutralizer muriatic acid. Baking soda and water mixture is a good bet.
Step by Step Process
- Wear all protective gear before you set out to clean your brick fireplace with muriatic acid.
- Get your empty acid-resistant spray bottle and add some water. Ensure the water is 10 times the volume of muriatic acid you intend to use. Your discretion is needed here depending on the size of the area you wish to clean.
- Add muriatic acid in the spray bottle, about a tenth of the water volume. Ensure you pour the acid into the water and not the other way round, as that could cause an exothermic reaction, which can make the acid spill and get on your body.
- Apply plenty of water on the area you wish to clean before you spray the mixture.
- Leave to sit in for about 10 minutes before scrubbing with brush.
- Rinse the surface with water and leave to dry.
- Air the area out for at least one hour to expel toxic fumes and smell.
In resorting to using muriatic acid for brick fireplace cleaning, you must understand that it poses certain risks to your health. Therefore, you must take precautions to ensure your safety and that of those around you.
Here are a few safety tips to consider:
- Wear face protection, either full-face mask with respirator or the 2-piece type already mentioned above. You should also Wear acid-resistant gloves and thick, full-coverage clothing.
- Dilute muriatic acid in water following the prescribed formula of 1:10. That is one-part acid mixed in 10-parts water.
- Do not pour muriatic acid on its own into an empty bottle or vessel, as this can destroy the vessel.
- Do not mix with other acids.
- Make sure it is the muriatic acid you’re slowly pouring into the water and not the water into the acid, to prevent am exothermic reaction which may lead to injuries.
- Use only acid-resistant plastic container or glass for the mixture.
- Leave muriatic acid in its original container when storing.
- Keep a neutralizer, such as garden like or baking soda, nearby in case there is need to neutralize muriatic acid at any point. You can mix a half cup of baking soda and ¼ water in properly-sealed spray bottle and leave it close to you.
- If you’ll be working for long on a large area and you’ll be mixing the solution in a plastic container, ensure you have at least three replace when deterioration occurs.
- Ensure everyone in your home is protected from inhaling or coming in contact with the acid or mixture.
- Dispose properly after use. You can contact recycling centers or safety bodies in your local community for safe disposal instructions.
How Much Does It Cost to Clean Brick Fireplace with Muriatic Acid?
If you decide it’s too risky and would rather call in the professionals to clean your brick fireplace, you may have to part with a few hundred dollars.
A typical professional will charge about $100 to $150 per hour. When you add that to cost of materials, you should be parting with between $200 to $250 in total.
On the contrary, if you decide on a DIY brick fireplace cleaning with muriatic acid, you’ll only need to get those items already listed above, all of which should cost around $100.
If you’ll be buying thick protective clothing like the Sujan Slash-proof Overall, that estimate can rise to about $130 or more.
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Your brick fireplace deserves to look clean at all times and making that happen is your responsibility. Whether it’s stubborn smoke, soot or creosote stains, muriatic acid is an effective last resort to give your fireplace a clean look.
With this guide, including materials needed, precautions and step-by-step process, you shouldn’t have any problems cleaning your brick fireplace with muriatic acid. Note that you can always call in a professional if you do not feel comfortable using muriatic acid.