Whenever you have a wood or pellet-fueled fire, you will be left with ashes and ash residue left behind for you to remove. Without knowing the proper ash removal procedures, you could end up with a fire caused by the hot coals hidden within the ashes. At Mr. Smokestack, fireplace and chimney safety is one of our highest priorities as CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, so we thought we would share with you some answers to questions on removing ashes correctly to protect you from the possibility of a dangerous fire.
How Does Improper Ash Removal Lead to a Fire?
Many times, people mistakenly think that simply storing ashes in a metal bucket with no lid is the correct way to remove ashes. However, when this unlidded bucket is sitting outside on your porch, winds can easily blow the bucket over, and this causes all of the ashes to fall out onto your porch or yard. When this happens, the ashes get stirred up, which causes the hot coals to become active again. If your porch has a wooden floor, you could have a dangerous porch fire on your hands caused by the wrong way to remove ashes. Similarly, if the hot ashes end up in your yard, you may have to deal with an out-of-control brushfire.
What Is the Best Type of Container to Use to Store Ashes?
The importance of using a proper ash container cannot be stressed enough. Mr. Smokestack strongly recommends using a pail or bucket made of sheet metal that has a securely fitted lid. The lid is the key for safety. For an even safer ash 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 Is the Best Place to Store My Ash Bucket?
Never place your bucket on a wooden floor as this can be a fire hazard even if the bucket has an elevated bottom. Always store your ash bucket outside on a non-combustible surface such as stone, brick, concrete, or slate. Be sure the lid is securely closed.
Do I Need to Remove Ashes After Every Fire?
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), you do not have to remove ashes every time you have had a fire. In fact, leaving a one-inch layer of ash on the floor of your firebox makes it much easier to build and maintain a fire. The hot coals within the ashes will add more heat to the fuel and reflect this heat back into the fire. A thin layer of ash also protects the floor of your firebox. However, you should never allow this layer of ashes to get too deep, If these ashes make contact with the bottom of your grate, it can cause the grate to burn out prematurely.
What If I Have a Wood-Burning Stove or a Pellet Stove? Do I Store These Ashes Differently?
The 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. If 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 Mr. Smokestack to ask our staff. We are happy to help you with all fire safety issues.