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Proper Ash Removal

When it comes to fireplace safety, many homeowners believe that their worries end as soon as the fire goes out. However, there is one important part of using a fireplace that should not be ignored – proper ash removal.

Knowing how to correctly remove and dispose of your ashes can not only make your home safer, but can also keep you from creating unnecessary messes and even be used in unexpected alternative ways. By taking the time to do it the right way, homeowners can rest assured that they have done everything in their power to keep their families and homes safe from accidental fires.

Proper ash removal - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps of michigan


Are ashes dangerous?

The limp and lifeless ashes that are left over after a fire are anything but menacing. While there is nothing inherently dangerous about ashes themselves, it’s what can be hidden in the ashes that can cause a safety concern.

Hot coals and embers can become trapped or hidden in pockets of ash; even after the fires dies out and the ashes begin to cool, these embers can remain dormant and ignite later on. “Wood ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days.” This means that homeowners need to treat ash removal with care and caution, even if the fire has been out for some time.

Removing ashes – the wrong way

While everyone has their favorite way of cleaning the fireplace, many of the most popular ash removal methods are unsafe and incorrect. The following are a few examples of dangerous – or dirty – ash removal methods that should not be used.

  • Vacuum: Even if your vacuum has a HEPA filter, the fine ash particles often become airborne. This not only pollutes your air quality but can also stain walls and furnishings.
  • Paper bags: Putting ashes into a combustible container like a paper bag or cardboard box can lead to an unintentional fire if any coals or embers remain.
  • Trash cans: Many trash or dumpster fires are caused each year by not-quite cold ashes being mixed in with regular garbage.

Removing ashes – the right way!

Removing ashes the right way takes three things: time, patience, and a proper ash container. First, homeowners should let fires naturally extinguish. During this process, it is important to stoke and move the ashes frequently to prevent any coals or embers from remaining hidden in the ash. Depending on the size of the fire and how much wood was used, it may take a full day or longer for the ashes to cool completely.

After the ashes have cooled, it is important that they are placed in a proper container. A good ash container is metal, has a fitted lid, and does not sit directly on the ground. Ash containers should never be placed near combustible materials; this includes being stored indoors or in garages or sheds. Lastly, follow local rules or regulations when it comes to the time and location of ash disposal; many trash companies have rules about ash being picked up with regular garbage, even it is in a separate container.

If you don’t want your ashes to go to waste, consider using them in an alternative way. Ashes can be sprinkled in the garden to work as both a fertilizer and bug repellent. Likewise, they can also be used as a natural deicer for driveways and sidewalks – as long as you don’t mind dirty shoes!

How to Operate Your Gas Logs

How to Operate Your Gas Logs - Ann Arbor MI - Clean SweepsGas fireplaces, whether they use propane or natural gas, are continuing to become more and more popular. With their low cost to operate, ease of use, and attractive styles, gas fireplaces can make the perfect addition to any home.

Whether you’ve had a gas log for a number of years or just had a unit installed, learning how to operate it properly is an important part of fireplace ownership. In addition to ensuring that your unit is operating with maximum efficiency, learning how to correctly operate your gas log can also make sure your family stays safe when the fireplace is in use.

Tips for operating your gas log

Below are some tips on how to operate your gas logs.

  • Read the manual. This sounds simple, but it will give you the exact instructions you need for your particular unit. Because every gas log unit is different, it is important to learn about your specific set up. Oftentimes, the manual is the best – and most accessible – source of information. Reading the manual can help you better understand how to operate, clean, and maintain your gas log. If you do not have a manual, most manufacturers have them online or you can contact their customer service support.
  • Master the remote control. Most gas log sets now come with remote controls. Much like a television remote, this allows homeowners to control their gas logs with the touch of a button from anywhere in the room. In addition to simply turning the fireplace on and off, many remotes offer more complex controls such as flame height, temperature, heating schedule, and blower speed. Lastly, if you have small children in the house, parental controls can be turned on to keep kids from turning the unit on without supervision.
  • Regularly clean. Just like wood burning fireplaces, gas fireplaces still need to be regularly cleaned. After the fireplace has cooled completely, exterior glass and metal can be cleaned to remove dust, smudges, or fingerprints. Interior fireplace parts can be cleaned using a dry, soft cloth, clean soft-bristled paint brush, or vacuum.
  • Don’t burn other materials. Gas log fireplaces are only designed to burn one thing – gas. Other materials – including paper, cardboard, and wood – should never be burned in a gas unit. Unlike a traditional wood burning fireplace, gas fireplace chimneys and venting systems are not designed to handle the soot and ash created by burning materials. Likewise, the debris created when burning these materials can clog or damage the gas log unit.
  • Keep kids and pets away. The glass and metal on the exterior of a gas fireplace can become extremely hot when the fireplace is in use – and stay hot after the unit has been turned off. Because of this, small children and pets are at increased risk of being burned. While teaching fireplace safety is an important part of preventing burns, parents can also use additional safety measures such as protective barriers and baby gates to keep children and animals away.
  • Call a chimney sweep. If your gas log seems to be burning less efficiently, is creating smoke, or is creating a lingering gas odor, it may be time to call a chimney sweep.

If you have questions about your gas logs or gas fireplace, contact us at the Clean Sweeps of Michigan and one of our experts can help you and are available for an evaluation of your gas logs if needed.

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