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The Basics of Ash Removal

There’s a lot of upkeep inherent in using and maintaining a wood-burning fireplace or stove. You need to make sure and schedule your annual chimney inspection and regular chimney sweeping appointments, chop and dry and/or store wood, build your fires, tend your fires and clean up after your fires.

Are you unsure of whether or not the ashes in your fireplace or stove need to be removed?

Are you unsure of whether or not the ashes in your fireplace or stove need to be removed?

One thing that might surprise you if you’re new to wood-burning appliance ownership, though: You don’t need to remove all the ash in your fireplace or stove all the time. In fact, you really don’t want to remove it all.

A small layer of ash actually makes it easier for you to get a consistent fire going, by encouraging heat back toward your fuel and the fire and helping to get combustion moving. An ash layer also gives your firebox a little extra protection by buffering the floor against the fire’s heat, too.

You will, of course, need to remove ash at certain points. But don’t rush it — you’ll want to remove the ash only when it’s necessary. And that’s not just an excuse to cross off that line on your honey-do list — it’s the truth!

Here are a few guidelines that can help you know if it’s time to remove the ash in your fireplace or stove:

Remove The Ash When…

The Level Of Ash Reaches Your Fire Grate

Is your pile of ash poking up from under the grate? It’s time to tame it back. That’s in part to help maintain the grate — ash has acidic qualities that can start to erode it, and beyond that, the ash is helpfully pushing heat back toward the fire, and your grate is getting caught in the crossfire, undergoing a heat blast that won’t help its longevity. Really, an ash layer of about an inch is all you need to get the burn benefits and protection that ash brings, so shooting for that is a good rule of thumb.

Your Stove Is Stuffed

Do you have so much ash in your wood-burning stove that it’s making it hard to get sufficient fuel in there? You’re probably assuming — and rightly so — that it’s time to ditch some of that ash. Ash has its benefits, but a stove stuffed with ash that’s burned well past being useful is just creating a dirty and inefficient stove situation. Grab your ash shovel and metal bin, for sure.

It’s Closing Time

When the warm weather rolls in for good and you’re calling an end to your burning and heating season, giving the appliance a good ash removal is smart. If ash deposits sit through the spring and summer, the acids in the ash can damage a variety of materials and many parts in your appliance, from your metal grate to your masonry. Beyond that, ash can pull in and hold moisture, and we all know how much damage moisture can do to our chimney systems.

If you have any other questions about smart and effective burning and appliance maintenance practices, Clean Sweeps of Michigan Inc. is always glad to help. Just give us a call!