Buying an ash vacuum is a smart purchase if you use your fireplace, wood stove or pellet stove frequently. With an ash vacuum, you'll limit the mess caused by clean up and even vacuum warm ash if necessary. There are a number of models and accessories to choose from, but you're bound to find an ash vacuum that fits all of your needs.
What Is an Ash Vacuum?
Ash vacuums are specially designed to get your hearth cleaned quickly and easily. You can also use them to clean up outdoor fire pits, grills, smokers, and anything that leaves ash. The safest models come with flame-resistant parts and holding bins. Those are just a few things you should be looking for when buying an ash vacuum. If you've ever tried to clean your fireplace with a regular vacuum cleaner, you know the trouble you’re in for. Even if it works once or twice, you're always in danger of clogging your household vacuum. And forget about vacuuming up any warm embers. Buying an ash vacuum will likely save you time and money in the long run.
While you always need to be extremely cautious with warm embers or ash, the ash vacuum you buy should be able to handle them. (Note: Do not vacuum hot coals.) Filters should be fire resistant, as should the hose. However, you can buy ash vacuums that are rated for cold ash only. These are generally less expensive. Extreme caution should be used with these vacuums since an ember can stay warm in ash for several days.
Any ash vacuum should be able to capture extremely fine particles and keep them inside the canister. Some may "cough" out dust when first turned on. This will cause more mess and increase clean up time. The storage canister should be made from metal, and the motor should be about 6 amps or more.
The hose of a fire-retardant ash vacuum is much stiffer than a standard vacuum cleaner. This stiffness helps with the warm debris you can pick up with an ash vacuum. But be careful not to vacuum up large chunks of unburned wood or charcoal. You may want to remove as many of these as possible before vacuuming. (Remember to use tongs so you don't burn your hands.) Vacuuming hot coals or embers will likely create holes in your filter if you do. Of course, if you do vacuum hot coals and your vacuum is rated for warm ash, allow them to cool inside the vacuum before attempting removal.
When buying an ash vacuum, consider adding accessories. There are varieties that can help you clean hard to reach places, such as crevice tools, brushes and pellet stove hoses (which help collect the ash hiding in seams and pockets). Also look for wire brushes to help scrub away stubborn ash particles. Keep in mind that some filters are not washable so you may want to buy a few extra to have on hand for easy replacement. Filters should be changed once the vacuum has cleaned about 100 gallons of ash. Your vacuum may have slightly different requirements, so be sure to read the owner's manual.
Types of Ash Vacuums
Love-less Ash Company manufactures two widely available ash vacuums. Both The Cougar and Cheetah II feature a unique double filtration system to prevent "coughing" of ash. Among its notable features is a snap spring assembly that allows cleaning the secondary filter without removing the lid. The Cougar and Cheetah have 6 amp motors that deliver 1 horsepower. Both have a 3-gallon capacity. The main difference between the two is noise and price. The Cougar features a baffling system that makes it quieter. The Cougar costs about $250, while the Cheetah II is about $230.
Cleva also makes an ash vacuum. It features 5.8-gallon canister, a 2 horsepower motor, a full tank indicator, a 3.25-foot aluminum hose, and washable cartridge filter. It retails for about $70.
The Bad Ash 2 from Bad Ash has a HEPA filter and is fire retardant. It has a 6-amp motor, and a 5.28-gallon canister. It sells for about $150.
Hearth Country's ash vacuum features HEPA filtration, shake-off vibrating filter cleaning, a 4-gallon canister and is relatively quiet at 80 decibels. It is suited for vacuuming cold ash, as well as saw dust, cat litter, etc. It's lightweight, checking in at 8 lbs. But be careful not to vacuum any hot ash into this unit. It sells for about $150.
The Chimney ash vacuum is designed for cold ash. It features a 4-gallon canister, an 820 watt motor with 2.25 horsepower, 5-foot hose, a HEPA filtration system, a double insulated bottom and more. It retails for about $235.
These are just a few examples of the ash vacuums available. Before buying an ash vacuum, consider all your needs. But regardless of your final purchase, always use caution when vacuuming ash.