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Tips to Clean a Fireplace & Wood Stove

Ashes in wood stoveOnly two procedures are typically required to keep your fireplace and wood stove clean after use during winter. The first is ash removal. This is important because once there’s too much ash, the fire can’t get needed air. The second is cleaning the glass doors, though it is usually required less often. Follow directions applicable to your appliance, to ensure that you use the best method. The following is relevant information about ash and steps to keep your fireplace and wood stove clean throughout winter.

What is Ash?

Ash is material that remains after a wood fire, of course, but did you know that it’s incombustible, which means it can’t be burned further? Ash, like soot, is made up of small and accumulated microscopic particles that weren’t entirely consumed by the blaze. If you deeply breathe in ash or soot into your lungs, it could cause respiratory problems. Pre-existing conditions such as asthma and heart disease can be worsened by breathing in these toxic particles.

The following are signs that you may be experiencing short-term effects of irritation caused by breathing ash or soot:

  • A sore throat
  • A runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Skin irritations
  • Itchy eyes

These types of symptoms in a healthy adult will typically clear up once you’re away from the source.

Tips for Ash Removal

Cleaning out ash from a fireplace or wood stove is a messy job, but many people don’t realize that it’s also potentially hazardous to your health. Whenever removing ash, wear a respirator or dust mask to protect your lungs. In addition, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, to protect your skin from irritation.

If your fireplace has an ash dump door, it will be located in the middle of the firebox aka inner hearth floor. Open the ash pit door and carefully sweep ash into the cavity underneath the fireplace. It’s always good to leave a small layer of ash on the firepit floor because having it there helps fires to emit more heat. To remove the ashes, you’ll need to access a second ash dump door, which may be located in your basement or on the base of the chimney outside. There’s no need to rush, however. Homeowners often wait years before cleaning out the ash pit, and no harm is done.

ash bucketWhether you are removing ash from your ash pit, firebox, or wood stove, the first thing to do is be sure it has been at least 24 hours since the last fire went cold. Next, wearing the protective gear mentioned above, shovel out the ash and place it into a metal bucket that has a lid. Note: Never use a container made with combustible materials to clean out ash. Also, try to avoid stirring up the ash into the air, as much as possible.

What to Do with Ash / Ash Disposal

Carry the ash bucket outside, away from your home and porch. Place it on a noncombustible surface and away from combustible items. PLEASE NOTE: Each year, many home fires in the U.S. occur because an ash bucket was left in the garage or on the back porch, even if the bucket was metal. Ashes remain hot for a remarkably long time, even when they are assumed to be cold ashes. The secure lid on an ash bucket is vital because wind can reignite embers.

Once the potential danger of fire has passed, dispose of the ash in your garden ash pile. Otherwise, pour the ashes into a regular metal garbage can, to be dumped with your other trash.

It’s almost impossible to prevent ash from getting inside the home during cleanup. This is a good reason to hire a chimney professional, who has the tools and equipment to perform the job with no mess in your home.

Contact Expert Chimney Sweeps

In the Richmond area, Chimney Saver Solutions is the most trusted full-service chimney service company. For fireplace, wood stove, and chimney cleaning, contact the certified experts at Chimney Saver Solutions by calling 804-440-5000 today.

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