To Remove or Not Remove Ash

Any homeowner with a wood stove or fireplace is faced with the problem of ash removal. If you’re burning wood, you’re going to have to deal with ash. The actual amount of ash that’s generated will be determined by the type of wood you burn (hardwood or softwood) and the temperature at which your fires are burning. Informed homeowners look forward to this ash, as it can be used as a lawn and garden fertilizer to provide vital nutrients and reduce acidity. It can also be used on compost piles to maintain neutral acidity levels as well as on icy driveways and sidewalks to provide much-needed traction. However, don’t be too hasty with your ash removal, as a little bit is actually a good thing!

Wood Ashes - Cincinnati OH -

Wood Fire Maintenance for Heating Efficiency

The primary objective in maintaining wood fires is to prevent the wood from smoldering because any smoke that passes out of the firebox has the potential to condense as creosote in the chimney and/or be emitted outdoors as air pollution. Believe it or not, there will be little to no visible smoke from your chimney if your wood is burning with bright, active flames. A 1-2” layer of ash and coal at the bottom of your fireplace or wood stove can actually assist with the combustion process, thereby enabling your fire to burn with a much higher intensity. If the ashes are cleaned out too soon, however, you may find that it’s more difficult to build a new fire because you must heat up all of the brick in the firebox to saturation before the fire is able to really take off.

How to Deal with Wood Ashes

Try to remove a small amount of ash frequently. During the coldest part of the heating season, it may be appropriate to remove a small amount of ash each morning before the new fire is kindled to make raking coals and kindling loads throughout the day more convenient. It is important to remember that ashes often contain live coals, which can stay hot and give off carbon monoxide for days. The best practice, whenever possible, is to leave live coals in the fireplace or wood stove to assist with the kindling of a subsequent wood load. When rekindling from coals, it is best to rake the coals towards the air inlet, place the new wood behind the coals, and always place the smallest, driest piece of firewood directly on the coals to act as the ignition source for the rest of the new wood. This small piece of wood should begin flaming almost immediately and will ignite the larger pieces as it burns.

The End of the Heating System Is Different

When the weather starts warming up, many homeowners begin shifting their sights to doing things outdoors and forget all about their fireplace and/or wood stove. This can prove detrimental to both. Wood ashes actually have the potential to draw moisture that can wreak havoc on the metal components and masonry. Ash is extremely acidic and, when combined with moisture, can be extremely destructive. It is best to remove all ashes from your fireplace and stove at the end of the heating season to prevent this from happening.

Here at Chimney Care Company, we’ve been sweeping and cleaning chimneys for 25 years, and we’ve seen the difference that an annual sweep can make in the lifetime and enjoyment of the chimney and fireplace. Don’t wait until you’re experiencing problems with your chimney system—click here to schedule your sweeping and inspection today! We guarantee that our sweeps will get the job done right the first time! When you have your chimney inspected by our trained and experienced crews, you can be sure that is a chimney service you don’t have to worry about anymore.

By Jeff Keefer | Tagged with: Tags: , | Leave a Comment

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