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Wood Heater Maintenance and Ash Removal

Ash is a natural by-product of the wood you burn in any wood-heater. It may seem that it isn't much more than a nuisance, but there are some very important reasons to be diligent and careful about ash removal.

A wood stove that is kept clean burns firewood more efficiently, partly because there is a better draft. Your wood stove will also last longer if ash is removed as needed. The frequency of ash removal is dependent upon how often you use the appliance, and it also depends upon the type of wood you burn. Well-seasoned firewood burns far more efficiently than green firewood, and less ash is left behind. Creosote, a highly flammable substance released as a result of wood burning can build up in your chimney and can potentially ignite causing house fires. Therefore as a general rule, your wood heater should be given a professional clean at least every two years to ensure that it continues to perform efficiently and most importantly, safely

Ash removal can be a potentially dangerous fire hazard when not handled correctly. Many house fires have been caused by improper handling of ash.

Some facts about Ash:

  • Hot coals that are buried in piles of ashes can lie dormant for weeks; but if the coals are exposed to oxygen, they can flare up and start a fire.

  • A metal ash pail is not the foolproof place for wood stove ash that many people mistakenly think it is. If a winter breeze comes along, the contents of the pail can become stirred, causing the coals to re-ignite. A breeze can blow live coals from the ash pail onto a wooden porch and start a dangerous house fire. Lidless pails are not a good choice for ash storage.

  • If a metal pail containing hot ash is on a wooden surface, such as a wooden porch, the floor can become charred as the pail heats up to high temperatures. Hot ash should be treated with great care and should not be left unattended for a long period of time.

    Sheet metal is the safest material to use for ash removal and storage. A sheet metal pail with a handle for carrying, a raised bottom (to prevent hot contents from being in contact with flooring), and a tightly closing lid is ideal for wood stove ash.

    Follow these steps for safe ash removal:
  • Place ash in a metal container. Warning: Never use flammable materials for ash disposal, such as plastic bags, paper, or cardboard boxes.

  • Place the metal bucket outside, and pour water into it, to douse any hot embers that may be inside. Keep in mind that hot coal or wood can smolder for days.

  • After adding water, stir the ashes, so that all of the bucket's contents are wet.

  • Place the ash bucket away from flammable materials, and tightly secure the lid. Warning: Do not put the metal container on a wooden floor or any other type of flammable surface.

  • If you vacuum remaining ashes out of your wood stove, only use a vacuum that is especially designed for the purpose of removing hot and cold embers. Warning: Never use a vacuum designed for cleaning floors to remove ash.

    At Mr Stoves, our very own Vogue Navara comes with an optional ash draw, which makes both cleaning and ash removal quick and easy. for all your cleaning needs we also recommend Sooty's Chimney Cleaning.

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