During the winter season in Wisconsin, there’s nothing better than relaxing by a warm fire in your home. After turning on your fireplace or wood stove for a few hours, you go back to turn it off before leaving. The last thing you’re thinking about is removing the wood ashes from your fireplace.

However, it is important that you know how and when to dispose of the ashes. Not knowing certain things such as how to properly remove or store the ashes could lead to inadvertently starting an accidental fire. Read on to learn more about the process to safely remove wood ash from your fireplace.

How Long Should I Wait to Safely Remove Wood Ashes?

Burning solid fuels in your stove or fireplace will inevitably leave behind ashes that will need to be removed. These ashes should be removed periodically so as not to harm the performance or efficiency of your heating unit. Generally speaking, the frequency of this process depends on the product itself.

In most cases, you should wait at least 24 hours after putting out a fire to remove the ashes. However, to be completely safe, you might instead wait 24 to 36 hours to allow the fireplace and the contents inside of it to cool down.

How Do I Safely Throw Out Wood Ashes?

Wet/Dry Vacuum: This method utilizes a vacuum and a disposable bag. Simply wait at least four days for the ashes to cool completely. Then, open your fireplace or stove doors to vacuum them up. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends leaving a layer of one inch to insulate the floor of the firebox and help you start the next fire.

Shovel and Bucket: A metal ash shovel and bucket are required to complete this task as safely as possible. Furthermore, you will need to wear gloves and a breathing mask. Laying down a few cloths or tarps to catch the ash will also help protect your floor from ash residue. 

After removing the ash and placing it in a bucket, make sure it is closed tightly. You may then place the bucket outside on a non-combustible surface, such as brick or concrete. After a waiting a few days, you may dispose of the ashes in your trash can outside.

How Often Do I Need to Remove the Wood Ashes From My Fireplace?

According to the CSIA, wood ashes should not be removed after every fire. The frequency of wood ash removal depends on how often you use your fireplace. However, disposing of the ashes every week or two is sufficient. It’s also appropriate to remove the wood ashes at the end of the heating season. As the weather begins to warm up, many homeowners shift their attention to the outdoors and forget about their fireplace or wood stove.

Wood ashes tend to draw moisture that can cause harm to the metal components and masonry. Additionally, having a wood stove with huge amounts of ash in it will reduce the volume of fuel that is typically added to the firebox. For that reason, it is important to try to remove a small amount of ash frequently.

Keep Your Fireplace Functioning Safely and Efficiently This Winter

In short, take steps to protect your family and preserve your home by having regular fireplace maintenance. A professional chimney sweeper will inspect your fireplace and catch any problems before they can arise. The Chimney Expert has over 20 years of experience servicing Milwaukee chimneys. We offer chimney sweeping, installation, repair, restoration and inspection services throughout the Milwaukee area. Contact us today to receive a free estimate.