A chimney’s sweeps thoughts on fireplace and wood stove ash removal

In a new Chimney Safety Institute of America video for homeowners, we asked CSIA Instructor Rich Rua of A Traditional Sweep in Portsmouth, Rhode Island for his tips on handling the ash remains of freshly burned firewood. We want everyone to enjoy their solid fuel appliance, but also be safe.

Because homeowners lack a temperature-sensing tool, they can be potentially fooled by the appearance of ashes, which might look benign but are plenty powerful enough to cause a fire after they’ve been removed from the fireplace or wood stove. Unintended fires have been reported this fall in Vermont, prompting a warning from a fire department.

You can obviously tell from the red glow that while the wood has been consumed, there are still hot coals embedded in the ashes.
You can obviously tell from the red glow that while the wood has been consumed, there are still hot coals embedded in the ashes.

MORE: Video: “A chimney sweep’s thoughts on ash.”

“There’s going to be a time when the firewood is consumed that you are going to have to maintain your fireplace for the next burn cycle,” said Rua. “Never remove the burned embers until the ashes have gone completely out, and place those ashes in a non-combustible container with a seal-able lid. And keep the container away from any structure because it can rekindle and re-ignite, even through the can.”

You can take your metal shovel and disturb the ashes, to get a sense if there's any hot coals still nestled that might pose a problem.
You can take your metal shovel and disturb the ashes, to get a sense if there’s any hot coals still nestled that might pose a problem.

Rua encourages an insulated bed of ash about 1 to 2 inches thick to encourage the next load of firewood to burn. He never cleans the ashes entirely after each use, with the exception being the end of the burning season.

Ashes2

Just remember: “live” coals remain can remain embedded in ash and can hold their hot temperature for days.

MORE: Video: The Dangers Hidden In Ash

For more about ash handling, see our website for free information.

“Fireplaces are entertainment sources as well as provide warmth for your house,” Rua said. “Enjoy it, but being safe is our primary concern.”

Locate one of 1,500 CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps at csia.org/search

See more videos that are helpful to homeowners on our YouTube channel.


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