If you have a wood-burning appliance, you know that after a fire, you will be left with ashes and ash residue left behind that will need to be correctly removed and stored. If you are unaware of the proper ash removal and storing procedures, you could end up with a fire ignited by the hot embers insulated within the ashes. At Aelite Chimney Specialties, fireplace and chimney safety is one of our highest priorities as CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, so we want to share with you some answers to questions on removing and storing ashes correctly to protect you from the possibility of a dangerous fire.
How Can Improper Ash Removal and Storage Lead to a Fire?
Often, people mistakenly think that simply storing ashes in a metal bucket with no lid is the correct way to store ashes after they are removed. However, when this bucket is sitting outside on your porch, strong winter winds can easily blow the bucket over, which causes all of the ashes to fall out onto your porch or yard. If this does occur, the ashes get stirred up, and the hot coals and embers could be reactivated. If your porch has a wooden floor, you might also possibly have a dangerous porch fire on your hands caused by the improper storage of ashes. Similarly, if the hot ashes end up in your yard, you may have to deal with an out-of-control brushfire.
What Kind of Container Should I Use to Store Ashes?
Aelite Chimney Specialties cannot stress enough to our customers the importance of using a proper ash container. We strongly recommend using a pail or bucket constructed from sheet metal that has a securely fitted lid. The lid is the essential key for safety. For an even safer ash storage container, the bottom of the pail should be slightly offset so that the actual bottom will not make contact with flooring and char the surface.
Where Should I Store My Ash Bucket?
Do not ever place your bucket on a wooden floor as this can be a fire hazard even if the bucket has an elevated metal bottom. Always store your ash bucket outside on a non-combustible surface such as stone, brick, concrete, or slate. Ensure the lid is securely closed.
Should I Remove Ashes After Every Fire?
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), you do not have to remove ashes after every fire. In fact, leaving a one-inch layer of ash on the floor of your firebox will make it much easier to build and maintain a fire. The hot embers within the ashes will add more heat to the fuel and reflect this heat back into the fire. A thin layer of ash can also protect the floor of your firebox. However, you should never allow this layer of ashes to get too deep. If these ashes should make contact with the bottom of your grate, it can cause the grate to prematurely burn out.
What If I Have a Wood-Burning Stove or a Pellet Stove? Do I Need to Store These Ashes Differently?
Ash storage procedures are still the same for these stoves. If your stove is long and narrow and burns from the front to the back, it will benefit from removing the ashes that are just inside the door. Then, you can move the hot coals to the back of the stove to aid in the quick ignition of a fire. The incoming air from combustion will reignite those hot coals and rapidly heat up the entire firebox. When all of the ashes are removed, it will be difficult to start a fire because all of the bricks in the firebox must be heated to saturation before your fire can really get going.
If you have any questions about how to remove and store ashes properly, contact Aelite Chimney Specialties to ask our staff. We are happy to help you with every issue involving fire safety.