Can You Vacuum Fireplace Ashes?

Getting your fireplace clean can feel impossible at times. Do you want to clean up the ashes in your fireplace but don't know whether it's okay to use a vacuum? Well, we've done plenty of research and have the answer waiting here for you. 

As long as the vacuum you use in your fireplace is intended for ash removal, it's completely safe to clean with. Typically, ash-friendly vacuums will have a special HEPA filter in them, which can catch the ashes from your fireplace, while regular vacuums will not.

That said, using a regular vacuum to try and clean ashes won't be very effective and could result in an even bigger mess inside your home.

As we begin, we will cover all things ash cleaning and discuss how to vacuum your fireplace. Whether you've never cleaned a fireplace before or need a new way to get the job done, we're here to help. Let's dive right into this topic!

A glass wall fireplace with decorative mantel, Can You Vacuum Fireplace Ashes?

What Kind Of Vacuum Can I Use In A Fireplace?

As we mentioned above, you want to make sure to use an ash-friendly vacuum for your fireplace. These will often include a specialty HEPA filter, which can catch smaller ash particles and keep them from spreading around your room.

Luxurious and high end living room with decorative stone tiles on the fireplace

Of course, there are vacuums made specifically for cleaning ashes that we recommend, including ShopVac's 4041200 Ash Vacuum and PowerSmith's 4-Gallon Ash and Shop Vacuum. ShopVac also has a 5-Gallon Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Vacuum, which works for other places besides your fireplace, so you have a few good options to try.

ShopVac 4041200 Ash Vacuum

This ash vacuum features a HEPA filter, is stainless steel, and works in fireplaces, wood/pellet stoves, coal stoves, and charcoal grilles. It comes with a two-year warranty.

Follow this link to see it on Amazon.

PowerSmith 4-Gallon Ash and Shop Vacuum

This vacuum cleans warm and cold ash from fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, and barbeque grills, features a heat-resistant metal hose, has washable filters, and comes in a few configurations.

Check out this ash vacuum on Amazon.

ShopVac 5-Gallon Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Vacuum

The product is stainless steel, works in fireplaces, features a seven-foot hose, and comes with a cartridge filter.

See this vacuum on Amazon.

What Happens If I Use A Regular Vacuum In The Fireplace?

If you decide to use a regular vacuum to get the ashes out of your fireplace, expect a mess. Generally, standard vacuums won't have the same design or capability as an ash-specific option, meaning there is a possibility they won't pick up the ashes and may even become damaged.

Another reason to avoid using a regular vacuum in the fireplace is that you risk a fire starting in your vacuum's collection area, which can result in serious injury. So although it might seem like a harmless mistake, not using the correct vacuum for cleaning ash can cause significant problems.

Is There A Vacuum For Hot Ashes?

Yes! There are certainly vacuums that will work for hot ashes. As we covered, PowerSmith makes a hot/cool ash vacuum that you can use in your fireplace, as well as many other brands.

For the most part, if a vacuum works for ash removal, it will be fine to use while the ashes are still hot, but again, it's always best to check a product's instructions before cleaning.

Should You Wait For the Ashes To Cool Before Vacuuming?

Although it isn't always necessary, you should try to wait for the ashes in your fireplace to cool. Doing this will allow everything to settle and keep you protected from getting burned.

Ideally, you should wait about 12 hours before vacuuming the inside of your fireplace or stove/grille, although between eight and ten should be sufficient if no live embers are present.

How Do You Vacuum Ashes From A Fireplace?

Woman using a vacuum to remove the gashes in the fireplace

Doing this won't be super difficult for those ready to vacuum their fireplace. To start, here's a list of what you need to do:

  1. Wait around 12 hours before cleaning.
  2. Check your fireplace for live embers and extinguish them if needed.
  3. Using a metal shovel, scoop out as many ashes as you can.
  4. Grab your ash-friendly vacuum and suck up any remaining particles.
  5. Clean the now vacuumed fireplace with a soapy sponge or scrub brush.
  6. Rinse out your fireplace with water, wipe it down, and you're done!

We also recommend wearing gloves while cleaning/vacuuming out a fireplace to prevent any burning or irritation, so try to grab a pair beforehand if you have sensitive skin.

How Often Should You Clean Your Fireplace?

In general, it's a good idea to clean out a fireplace every 12 months. The National Fire Protection Association recommends giving your fireplace a deep clean and inspection once per year, although you're always fine to do this more often.

Even cleaning twice per year might be helpful if you use your fireplace often, so this comes down to your needs/burning schedule. It is a good idea to regularly shovel out any excess ash from your fireplace between burnings to keep your fireplace clean and working efficiently.

What Is The Best Way To Clean Ashes Out Of A Fireplace?

Considering there are a few ways to do this, the best and most efficient option for cleaning ash is to shovel and vacuum it. As you read earlier, you want to start with shoveling excess ashes into the garbage and then vacuum up the rest.

Removing ashes in the fireplace using a metal scoop

It's also important to rinse your fireplace every year and scrub it with a soapy sponge/scrub brush, so don't forget that step.

Is Too Much Ash In A Fireplace Bad?

Although having some ashes in a fireplace can help create stronger fires, too much isn't always beneficial. Ash essentially traps heat, which makes keeping and restarting a fire much easier, so in that way, it's good to keep some in your fireplace.

On the other hand, ash is acidic, meaning having too much can corrode the bottom of your fireplace and even damage the grate that holds your logs. Too many ashes might also take up space in your fireplace, which means less room for wood to burn.

Is Wood Ash Bad To Breathe?

Firewood burning in the fireplace

Generally, breathing in wood ash isn't going to be great for you. Besides having a powerful smell, wood ash can irritate your nose, throat, and lungs, which can be very damaging over time.

Breathing in wood ash can also have adverse long-term effects on your health, including aggravated asthma, bronchitis, and lung damage, so try not to be around it more than necessary.

On top of that, ash can break down into even tinier particles over time, allowing it to travel deeper into your lungs and cause irritation, which makes cleaning your fireplace regularly that much more essential.

Is Ash From Fire Toxic?

Although it isn't necessarily toxic, the ashes from a fire contain small amounts of cancer-causing chemicals. This usually comes in the form of lung cancer and will happen with long-term ash exposure.

Ashes can also irritate your skin and eyes pretty severely if you are around them for long periods, so although they are natural, that doesn't mean they're safe.

What Happens If I Don't Clean Out My Fireplace?

The list is endless when it comes to the effects of not cleaning a fireplace. Most importantly, not cleaning out your fireplace/chimney can cause blockage and buildup of toxic gases within your house, which isn't good for your health long-term.

A bucket full of fireplace wood ashes

Another side effect of an unclean fireplace is structural damage, including signs of corrosion and even black staining on your walls. Again, you don't need to give your fireplace a deep clean every week or even month; try to get this done at least once per year.

How Do You Know If Your Fireplace Needs Cleaning?

Generally, a few signs to look for indicate it's time to give your fireplace a good cleaning. These include:

  • A strong campfire smell each time you use your fireplace.
  • Odd/uneven burning fires.
  • Longer fire start times, difficulty keeping a fire burning.
  • Smoke filling your room.
  • A black fireplace damper.
  • Oily marks on your walls.
  • Evidence of rodents/animals.

Of course, if it's been over a year and you're noticing lower-quality fires in your fireplace, it's time to give it a deep clean, so try to keep track of this timeline.

To Wrap It Up

Whether you're new to having a fireplace or have started to notice issues getting a fire going, knowing when and how to clean one can be tricky. From what we found, you can vacuum the ashes in a fireplace, as long as the vacuum you're using is specifically for ash removal.

When it comes to vacuuming up hot ashes, we don't recommend this, but instead, wait until about 12 hours have passed before you clean. It's also a good idea to wear gloves while cleaning a fireplace and ensure no active embers are present.

Regardless, remember to inspect and clean your fireplace every 12 months, and don't forget to open a window if the smoke in your home becomes excessive.

Made it to the end? Check out these helpful related posts below!

How Often Should You Add Wood To A Fire In Fireplace?

Do I Need A Special Thermostat For Gas Fireplace?

Can You Put Too Much Wood In A Fireplace?

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