How to remove soot stain from Kiva fireplace?
July 19, 2021 1:48 PM   Subscribe

I just bought an old adobe home with two Kiva fireplaces. At some point it looks like fires were lit in them while the flue was closed because there are giant soot stains on the white clay plaster outside the upper part of the fireplace. Any tips for removing the stains?

(I haven't tried lighting a fire in them yet as it's summer, and we still need to get the chimneys swept. But I have friends with similar Kiva fireplaces that have no soot stains, so I'm hoping ours can be restored as well and it's not just an inevitable part of burning a fire in a kiva fireplace.)
posted by egeanin to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
Best answer: I’d ask a local plasterer. I imagine it could be sanded and skim coated. Try out the Kivas first and/or have them cleaned and serviced to make sure they’re working properly.
posted by amanda at 2:07 PM on July 19, 2021

Best answer: Depending on the condition of the adobe: sugar soap and water, a toothbrush, patience.
posted by Ardnamurchan at 2:41 PM on July 19, 2021

Best answer: Older kiva fireplaces can be notorious for smoking due to a bad draw. Look up the chimney and see if any nests are blocking it. You may need to have the height of the flue extended to draw better (trees and other houses grow up around older homes and can block the wind). Sometimes the chimney cap gets dislodged and blocks the flow (and make sure it has a screen).

You don't want to start a fire in the Winter and have the smoke start filling the room. When building the fire, you want to lean the wood upright against the back of the fireplace like a tepee, not stack it on a metal grate like a traditional fireplace.

When you know the kivas work properly, then you can plaster or scrub (although I think re-plastering is probably faster and more effective). And definitely get some Piñon; it burns fast but smells fantastic.
posted by jabo at 5:19 PM on July 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

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