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The Best Ways to Remove Ashes from Your Fireplace or Stove

When you burn wood, ashes are a fact of life, and enjoying wood-burning fires does come with a few chores, including removing ashes from the fireplace or stove. For some people, the sensory experiences of wood-burning fires are worth these chores, but, of course, knowing the best ways to maintain your wood-burning fireplace or stove can make all of the difference. Ash removal can be tricky as it can lead to a couple of fire hazards, so it is important to know how to safely dispose of ashes. As fire safety is a top priority at Aelite Chimney Specialties, we would like to let you know the best ways to remove ashes from your fireplace or stove.

The Traditional MethodStove & Fireplace Ash Removal Image - Chicago IL - Aelite Chimney Specialties LLC

Before you begin this task, you should ensure you have the proper tools: a metal ash bucket with a lid, a metal ash shovel, gloves, and a face mask if you do not want to inhale ashes. After you have gathered your tools, you will want to be sure to wait at least 24 hours after the fire has been extinguished. This gives the ashes time to cool, although there will likely still be a few hot embers and smoldering ashes. To begin this task, open the doors of your fireplace or stove and begin scooping out the ashes with the ash shovel into your metal bucket. If you come across any hot embers, you can push them to the back of the firebox with your shovel. Do not remove all of the ashes. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that you leave a one-inch layer of ashes at the bottom of the firebox. This layer provides insulation that makes it easier to start and maintain a fire as well as protection to the firebox floor.
Once you have scooped up the ashes into the container, place the lid on it, and be sure the lid fits tightly to keep the ashes contained. There could be smoldering ashes inside, and the lid keeps oxygen from getting in to reignite those hot embers. Also, your container could be accidentally knocked over, which not only creates a big mess, but could also start an accidental fire. Place the container outside of your home on a non-combustible surface, such as concrete or brick. Any hot embers can heat up the container, and that heat could transfer to a combustible surface and ignite a fire. After three days, your ashes should be ready to place into a garbage bag to be disposed. You can always pour a little bit of water into the container to extinguish any smoldering ashes.

The Easy Method

If you have a wet/dry vacuum, you can simply vacuum up the ashes. For this method, Aelite Chimney Specialties recommends that you wait for four days after the fire has been extinguished to be sure no hot ashes end up inside your vacuum. All you will have to do after vacuuming the ashes is throw away the disposable bag. Remember to leave behind a thin layer of ashes for insulation and protection reasons, as mentioned above.
For more wood-burning fireplace and stove maintenance tips, contact us at Aelite Chimney Specialties. We are happy to help you take the best care of your wood-burning heating appliance.

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The Importance of Proper Ash Removal and Storage

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.

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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.

Cleaning Your Wood Stove

Keeping It Clean

Wood-burning stoves are top-notch mood-enhancers, but they also have plenty of practical benefits — they’re great zone heaters, and the units on the market today are highly efficient, too, giving off much more warmth and wasting much less fuel.

Owning a woods stove does require a certain amount of work to keep the system running properly and as safely as possible, though. There’s the work involved with any wood-burning unit — cutting and stacking wood, building fires — and then there’s the regular upkeep that keeps your stove clean and prepped for regular use. Aelite Chimney Specialties can help with a big part of your regular wood stove maintenance, removing creosote and other deposits from your flue during chimney sweeping appointments . (For a regularly used wood stove, it’s recommended to have the chimney swept twice a year.)

Ash removal is a critical step in maintaining your wood stove at an optimum level.

Ash removal is a critical step in maintaining your wood stove at an optimum level.

In between chimney sweeping appointments, though, there are a few things you can (and should) do to keep your wood stove clean.

Keep on top of ash removal

Ash builds up every time you use your wood stove, and it’s important to keep on top of cleaning it out. If you’re using the stove regularly, it’s a good practice to clean out ash every few days, before it’s allowed to build up to the level of the loading doors.

To remove ash, make sure to wait until the fire has completely died down — if any burning embers are still present, they add a potential danger to the process. Scoop the extinguished ash into a non-combustible container with a lid so you can dispose of it properly and safely, but leave about a half inch to an inch of ash on the bottom of the stove. That layer helps insulate, and will make it easier to start your next fire and achieve a nice uniform burn.

Clean your wood stove door

Keeping the door of your wood stove clean will lengthen its life, and just help you enjoy looking at your fire and your appliance. It’s also easy to do. Aelite technicians can recommend a good fireplace glass cleaner, which you’ll apply to the door when the stove has had time to cool completely, and wipe with a clean, soft cloth. Buffing after the cleaner has dried (again, with a clean, soft cloth) helps it shine and sparkle.

Make cleaning easier by using the right fuel

Always use seasoned or kiln-dried hardwood in your woodstove — green wood leads to a cooler fire that produces more creosote and more waste. Other materials — like trash or brush — have their own issues, from more mess to potentially giving off toxic gases (treated wood and plastic are a particular worry with the latter).

Start off with a wide-open damper

When you start your fire, open the draft control as wide as it will go and leave it that way for 10-15 minutes. It’ll help you achieve the kind of small, hot fire that’s optimum — large, smoldering fires lead to more creosote build-up.

With a little bit of diligence and effort, your wood stove should provide warmth and ambiance for years to come. And Aelite Chimney Specialties can help you enjoy your stove and chimney system as efficiently and safely as possible — just give us a call whenever you need us!