Basics of Ash Removal

Ash.  Dirt.  Dust.  These are things we don’t want messing up the cleanliness of our homes.  However, there is no way of preventing ash from being produced when burning a fire, so you must properly know how to clean it up.  Do you even have to clean them up, or is it included in your annual sweep and inspection?  The questions can become overwhelming, especially if you are an inexperienced chimney user.  To talk to an experienced professional or to schedule a maintenance appointment call Home Safe Hearth and Chimney.

Does ash need to be removed from the chimney?

If you have let the ash build up in your fireplace, it is likely you need to remove it. Here's how to do it safely.

If you have let the ash build up in your fireplace, it is likely you need to remove it. Here’s how to do it safely.

Many homeowners are shocked to learn that you are not supposed to remove all of the ash that collects at the bottom of the fireplace or woodstove.  The Chimney Safety Institute of American (CSIA) recommends that an inch of ash remain in the firebox throughout the burning season.  This helps when building and maintaining a fire by adding extra heat to fuel the fire.  You should closely monitor the ash level so it does not come into contact with the grate.  When this happens it can burn out prematurely.

Stoves that burn from front to back work a little differently.  In these, you should remove the ash on the inside of the door so that you can move the hot coals from the back to the front.  A small layer of ash can help create protection for the floor of the firebox.  It is extremely important that after the burning season you remove all of the extra ash.  The acids in the ash and moisture that may enter the firebox will combine and cause rust and deterioration in a metal or masonry fireplace.

How do you remove this ash?

To remove ash you can use:

  • A fireplace shovel that is metal and a pan that is also metal.
  • A wet/dry vacuum

This process should not be done for four or more days after the last fire is burned so that the unit and the ash have plenty of time to cool down.  The ashes should then be placed in a metal or clay can and discarded far away from the home.  To clean the glass parts of your fireplace make an equal part mixture of water and vinegar and use this to gently wipe away ash with a paper towel.

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