If you are heating your home with wood or pellets you know that at least periodically you have to clean ashes and dust from your firebox and hearth area. Keeping your fireplace or stove free of excess ashes is important for promoting proper air intake and flow and reducing allergens and odors associated with burnt wood fibers.
Although cleaning ash from your fireplace is not a fun job, in this video you will learn why you should NEVER use a household vacuum or shop vac to clean ashes from your fireplace or wood stove. An ash vacuum is the only type of vacuum that you are using because they are tools that are specially designed to clean fireplace ash. I have heard the argument that an ash vacuum is yet another attempt to part you and your hard earned money. Those believing that must be under the impression that an ash vac is exactly the same but thing as a regular vacuum with the only difference being that it is called and ash vacuum. That is not true and there are many reasons that you should only use an ash vacuum to clean a fireplace and Ill cover them starting first with safety.
Why You Should NOT Use a Household Vacuum For Cleaning Up Wood Ashes
Safety is the main reason that a household or shop vacuum should not be used for ash removal. A regular household vacuum is not constructed to take the heat. Ash vacuums will not burn, most have fire resistant canisters so that even if you accidentally suck a warm ember it will not burn. With a shop vac, it burns in an instant. The hose, nozzle and canister are all important parts of the ash vacuum. Take a look at your house hold vacuum or shop vac and most likely you are going to find that these are parts are all plastic. Ash vacs have a metal or thermal hose, nozzle, and canister that are all heat resistant.
A house hold vacuum just cannot cut it. Even though you should be making sure that your ashes are cooled, even with an ash vacuum, there are still chances that warm ashes are still present. The metal housing and components of an ash vac protect and contain there by reducing the risk of a fire.
Household vacuums and shop vacs are used to clean up house hold messes. Think about the last time you emptied your canister after vacuuming. What did you see? I bet you saw pet hair, carpet fibers, maybe small pieces of paper, these are all combustible materials. Why am I asking you to think about this? Because, I am sure many of you are as guilty as I am of putting away my vacuum without emptying the canister. Now think about what would happen if you grab that same vacuum and suck up warm ashes and they are introduced to your vacuums canister and those other combustible materials. That is how you start a fire!
Ash vacs are designed to contain ash dust, regular vacuums and shop vacs do not, or they do not well, there is still an ash that forms on furniture nearby, whereas with an ash vac it sucks up 99% of ash. Ash dust is very different from household dust and dirt. It is so fine that even with a filter in the regular vacuums it transfers through the filter into the vacuums motor. Ash vacuums have filters that are specially designed to capture the very fine particles of ash without exhausting it right back out into your home where it is not only annoying but a potential allergen.
You may still be thinking what is a little ash going to do to my vacuum? Well if you are sucking up ashes you are also shortening the lifecycle of your vacuum. The fastest way to kill a vacuum cleaner is to use it to clean up ashes or sheet rock dust. Why is that? Again, it is because of those fine particles that the filter cannot contain and end up in the units motor. Those particles collect in the motor and damage its inner components. So if you want your household vacuum to last you should use it for household cleaning and let the ash vacs clean up the ashes.
Ash vacuums range in price from under $100 and up depending on the model that you choose and its options. When you heat with wood you should always practice better safe than sorry, so it is a small price to pay for safety. I hear you thinking that much for something that I am only going to use to clean my fireplace? While ash vacuums are made for dry cleaning only they can be used for other cleaning tasks, it is also a safe cleaning tool for barbecues.
I hope that you have found this information helpful.