Raccoons!! -How to clean Smoke Shelf of Heatform Fireplace

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Johansenberger

New Member
Feb 23, 2020
2
Utah
We purchased a house a few years ago that has what I believe is a Superior Heatform fireplace in the basement. Not long after moving in we noticed a nasty smell coming from it. We called a chimney sweep and after some camera work we discovered that there were dead raccoons on the smoke shelf.
The raccoons has been dead for a while so we did our best to extricate them from the chimney but that was very difficult because he couldn’t get ahold of them to pull them up and it’s nearly impossible to reach up through the damper and get more than a handful of fur and bones out of there. I finally ended up ripping out everything I could and then lit a raging fire which seemed to take care of the smell for a while.

Fast forward a few years and we are finishing our basement and I’ve noticed a slight smell coming from the fireplace as before. (I have a cap on the chimney so I know it’s nothing new.)
So my questions are:
1- How in the heck are the smoke shelves on these meant to be to be cleaned? It’s almost impossible to access.
2- What do I do to get rid of the smell? Should I install a gas insert and entomb it or do I tear the heatform out and clean out the smokeshelf and then install a gas fireplace?

Sorry for the long novel- and thanks for any help you can offer!
 

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We purchased a house a few years ago that has what I believe is a Superior Heatform fireplace in the basement. Not long after moving in we noticed a nasty smell coming from it. We called a chimney sweep and after some camera work we discovered that there were dead raccoons on the smoke shelf.
The raccoons has been dead for a while so we did our best to extricate them from the chimney but that was very difficult because he couldn’t get ahold of them to pull them up and it’s nearly impossible to reach up through the damper and get more than a handful of fur and bones out of there. I finally ended up ripping out everything I could and then lit a raging fire which seemed to take care of the smell for a while.

Fast forward a few years and we are finishing our basement and I’ve noticed a slight smell coming from the fireplace as before. (I have a cap on the chimney so I know it’s nothing new.)
So my questions are:
1- How in the heck are the smoke shelves on these meant to be to be cleaned? It’s almost impossible to access.
2- What do I do to get rid of the smell? Should I install a gas insert and entomb it or do I tear the heatform out and clean out the smokeshelf and then install a gas fireplace?

Sorry for the long novel- and thanks for any help you can offer!
There really is no good way to clean them they are a horrible design. Why is the fireplace unfinished?
 
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Get the most powerful shop vac you can find. Link a bunch of hoses together and drop down from the top. It will plug up and you just pull the hose up and remove the debris. Rinse and repeat.
 
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Thank you all for the input. The basement was never finished so the fireplace was only finished to this point. Now I'm just contemplating whether its worth the effort of cleaning this one up or starting over.
 
Tear that inefficient thing out, and put a freestanding stove in there.