Author – Todd Woofenden
How to clean your fireplace
Some fireplaces have a small, cast iron door called an ash dump door inside the fireplace in the center of the fireplace floor, or inner hearth. This door leads to the ash pit, an open cavity below the fireplace. If you have an ash dump door, you probably also have a cleanout door in the cellar or outside, at the base of the chimney.
Once the ashes are completely cold – which can take well over 24 hours – you can push them down into the ash pit, saving you the hassle of carting them over the white Persian rug. Later, if you feel so inclined, you can open the cleanout door and shovel out the ash pit.
Note: This is a very dusty job. Wear a respirator. Or better yet, hire your chimney professional to do the job, using a high-powered vacuum designed to filter out very small particles. And since the average ash pit is big enough that you can dump ashes down there for decades without filling it, don’t feel that you have to rush to clean it out.
Don’t shovel live coals into the ash pit, as combustible materials like plywood and 2×4’s are often left in the ash pit during construction of the house.
Clean a fireplace without an ashpit – Cleaning a Wood Stove
Carry the ashes outside in a metal container, and store them in a metal can with a tight lid, on a non-combustible surface (like dirt or concrete).
Many home fires are caused each year by hot ashes, from cleaning a fireplace or cleaning a wood stove, left on the back porch or in the garage – even if they are in a metal can! Ashes stay hot for an incredibly long time. So store them outside, away from anything combustible.
~ Todd Woofenden