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Old 01/25/09, 12:31 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Western WA
Posts: 4,792
How often do you clean out your woodstove?

How frequently do you clean the ashes out of the firebox on your woodstove?

For those of you who run the stove almost 24/7, how/when do you clean it out?

Do you just use the fireplace shovel and a metal 5 gallon bucket? This is what I do but I don't have a metal bucket so I clean it when it's cold and use a plastic bucket.

How do you clean up the little miscellaneous spills of ash/debris that inevitably end up in around the front of stove

I see they make a metal bodied vacuum cleaner specifically designed for fireplace clean out. Anybody have any experience with these? Supposedly they trap the ash dust instead of spewing it out into the room via the vacuum exhaust, but I'm skeptical of this claim.
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Old 01/25/09, 05:41 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 276
We clean ours out daily. We run it 24/7 so we usually have alot of ash. We just dump the ash into a metal bucket (scooped out by a fireplace shovel) and take it out and spread around the drive way on the snow. We just sweep up any debris with the broom. Any hot coals or pieces of burning wood are left in the fire.
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Old 01/25/09, 07:12 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Ontario
Posts: 749
I clean out my ashes about every two days or so, I take it out with a fireplace shovel and put in the ash pan which came with my wood stove. I use it for the garden or on ice when it's slippery. Chris
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Old 01/25/09, 07:13 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 10,563
When we've had to run our stove 24/7, we had to clean out helps the stove draw more efficiently and, thus, burn more efficiently.

It makes life much easier to have a metal bucket. That way, you don't have to wait for the coals to cool. We bought a 5 gallon one @ the hardware store for not a lot of $$.

As for spills, after embers are allowed to cool, what can't be swept up with a broom and pan is vacuumed. We keep a little hand-vac near the stove just for that purpose.
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Old 01/25/09, 07:22 AM
mammabooh's Avatar
Metal melter
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Jeromesville, Ohio (northcentral)
Posts: 7,152
Our burns pretty efficiently, so we only clean out the ash maybe once a week. We have a little rocker knob that allows us to get the powdery ashes (not the bigger chunks) to fall down into the ash pan, so that's all we do weekly. Hubby cleans out the upper part once every 6 or 8 weeks.
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Old 01/25/09, 09:06 AM
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: East TN
Posts: 6,977
Stove has a door at the bottom with a swing out removeable ash tray. lift out the tray, fire burning or not, and dump ashes. We just walk out the door to the garden and dump them. Sweep off the hearth and job's done. When we don't need a fire during a warm day I'll brush the chimney and use the shop vac, 30 yo Sears plastic model, and clean the inside of the stove.
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Old 01/25/09, 09:14 AM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Adirondacks
Posts: 6,775
We clean it out daily and use a fireplace shovel to put the ashes in a large metal pretzel can with a lid.
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Old 01/25/09, 09:17 AM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Between Crosslake and Emily Minnesota
Posts: 14,590
Just a side note--It is recommended that you always leave about 1" of ash in your woodburner. It helps the fire burn more efficiently and it protects the firebox floor similar to firebrick.
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Old 01/25/09, 09:28 AM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: New York bordering Ontario
Posts: 4,886
I take a couple of shovelfuls out (fireplace shovel) every morning when rebuilding the fire, putting it in one of the metal cans with a lid. It can take quite a while to fill the can up, so I don't take it out too often. This stove runs 24/7. The metal can is well worth the money, IMO.

I don't bother cleaning up in front of the stove very often. It's not a big deal to me if there's a couple of cups of ashes there. I did build the hearth deeper than necessary, though, so if something falls out of the stove when putting wood in, it doesn't matter if it's hot or not. If I didn't have that deeper hearth I'd be better at keeping the front of the stove cleaned up, though, just from a safety standpoint. When I do clean it up it's when I'm sure everything is cold and I just use the broom and dustpan and it goes into the metal can with the rest of the ashes.

However, under no circumstances do I put anything from the fire, whether I think it's cold or not, into some container that might allow combustion, just in case I've made a mistake on a hot ember.

-Northern NYS
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Old 01/25/09, 10:01 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Ontario
Posts: 333
When I wake up in the morning the fire is down to just coals and the time to clean it out. I have an old large metal stock pot w/lid that I have repurposed as my ash can. I use the shovel pushing large hot coals to one side so can easily restart fire. I like to leave some ash in as it helps to hold the fire overnight. I usually only clean out the stoves every 2-3 days. I leave the stock pot sitting on the stone hearth. I dump it outside the next day when I'm sure they are cool. I also have a burn barrel outside that I could dump it into if I think there are still hot embers.
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Old 01/25/09, 10:17 AM
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Pook's Hollow
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Originally Posted by Cabin Fever View Post
Just a side note--It is recommended that you always leave about 1" of ash in your woodburner. It helps the fire burn more efficiently and it protects the firebox floor similar to firebrick.
I've noticed that when we clean the ashes out of the furnace firebox, it's really hard to get the fire going again. If there is a layer of ash, it seems to keep the coals in the grate, instead of them falling through.

We clean out as needed. We burn a lot of scrap with nails, etc., so we don't use it on the driveway.

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Old 01/25/09, 12:56 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: NW Georgia
Posts: 7,215
Daily I remove the ashes, but my stove has a separate door/compartment at the bottom to catch them. I usually completely clean/clear the firebox at the end of the heating season, but if there is a stretch of warm days, I might do it in mid-Winter, primarily to clean the glass in the door which permits seeing the fire better.
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Old 01/25/09, 01:11 PM
keep it simple and honest
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: NE PA
Posts: 2,607
I clean everything every 3 weeks, including the chimney. Ashes go in the metal can which then go into either a metal garbage can outside or on the driveway.
I also notice that when everything is cleaned, it is harder to get a good fire going...
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Old 01/25/09, 01:23 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 3,417
I think it depends a lot on what type and size your stove is!
We have a small box stove and so need to shovel out the ashes every 2-3 days depending on how much wood we burned. Its kinda hard to be adding wood if the ashes are falling out the door. LOL
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Old 01/25/09, 05:26 PM
highlands's Avatar
Walter Jeffries
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Mountains of Vermont, Zone 3
Posts: 9,506
Originally Posted by Wayne02 View Post
How frequently do you clean the ashes out of the firebox on your woodstove?
We have a small Voltzanger stove that heats our house 24/7 for six months of the year. We just cleaned it out. It was about half full of ash after having burned about one third of a cord of wood. There really isn't much ash left from a good clean burn. I could have kept going for the rest of the year without cleaning out.

When cleaning it out, I leave about two inches in the bottom for starting the future fires on. That protects the bottom of the stove from the intense heat of the fire which can damage the stove. A brick liner serves the same purpose.

To clean it out I just use a ash shovel and a metal pail. I want to have a vacuum to do it with, that would be cleaner as there is some puffing up of the dry ash as I remove it. But building a fire proof vacuum hasn't been priority, yet. When I build it, that vacuum will go to a metal canister and then vent outdoors through a spark arresting muffler.

To clean up small ash spills I just vacuum. We have HEPA filter vacuum. It's a small vac so I wouldn't use it for large amounts. That vac is not fireproof so I wouldn't do coals with it, just cool dust.


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Old 01/25/09, 10:06 PM
ET1 SS's Avatar
zone 5 - riverfrontage
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Forests of maine
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Every 2 or 3 days
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Old 01/25/09, 10:35 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1,878
Type of wood I burn makes a big difference in how often I clean my stove out. When I burn elm, I'll get a coal bucket of ashes out every day. Cottonwood will be good for four or five days. I had been burning some old pine poles, and the ash was considerably less with that.

I burn in an earthstove (brand name). The large door is detachable, and lets me set the ash bucket right at the edge, so lots of the dust is sucked back into the stove. What misses the bucket is simply swept up.
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Old 01/27/09, 10:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: New Alexandria PA
Posts: 423
No Plastic

Don't burn the house down.
Try this
Everything you ever wanted to know about burning wood and then some.
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