Every time you have a wood or pellet-fueled fire, it is a fact of life that ashes will be left behind for you to remove. Do you know how to properly dispose of these ashes? If not, you could end up with a fire caused by the hot coals hidden within the ashes. At Hudson Chimney, we place a high priority on chimney and fireplace safety, so we thought we would share with you some answers to questions on how to correctly remove ashes to protect you from the possibility of a fire.
How Does Improper Ash Removal Lead to a Fire?
Many times, homeowners think that simply storing ashes in a metal bucket with no lid is the proper way to remove ashes. However, this is not the case. When this unlidded bucket is sitting outside on your porch, winds can easily blow the bucket over, and this can cause all of the ashes to fall out onto your porch or yard. When this occurs, the ashes get stirred up, and the hot coals become active once again. If your porch has a wooden floor, you could have a dangerous porch fire on your hands caused by the incorrect way of removing and storing ashes. You may also end up with an uncontrollable brushfire in your yard.
What Is the Best Container for Storing Ashes?
The importance of using a proper ash container cannot be stressed enough. Hudson Chimney strongly recommends using a pail or bucket made of sheet metal with a securely fitted lid. The most essential key for safety is the lid. To be even safer, the bottom of the pail should be slightly offset so that the actual bottom does 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. You should always store your ash bucket outside on a non-combustible surface such as stone, brick, concrete, or slate.
Is it Necessary 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, the CSIA recommends leaving a one-inch layer of ash on the floor of your firebox to make 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. Additionally, a thin layer of ash also protects the floor of your firebox. However, you need to monitor this level of ash and 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 prematurely burn out.
I Have a Wood-Burning Stove or a Pellet Stove. Is the Proper Ash Removal Procedure Any Different?
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, according to the CSIA, 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 help igniting a fire quickly. The incoming air from combustion will reignite those hot coals and rapidly heat up the entire firebox. When all of the ashes are removed, it can 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 proper ash removal, contact Hudson Chimney to ask our staff. We are happy to help you with all fire safety issues.