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Do you know the very best thing about having a fireplace or wood burning stove? It gives your home a rustic, warm, cozy feeling that you just can’t get any other way. There’s something about them that just takes your place from simply being a house you happen to live in, to being a home you truly enjoy and are proud to have friends and family over for a visit.
Do you know the worst thing about having a fireplace or wood burning stove? The ash! After a time, especially if you’re fond of using it often, ash will build up to levels high enough to be problematic. But what to do about it?
You could call a chimney sweep of course, but that’s expensive, and it seems like something you should be able to take care of for yourself, given the right tools, and it is. Provided you have an ash vac of course.
What Not To Do
I want you to picture two scenarios in your mind, then NEVER do either of them. Promise me. Okay, the first of the two is, imagine yourself with a broom and a dust pan, trying to manually sweep the ash out of a cold stove or
fireplace. Can you imagine the mess it would make? Your entire home would be covered with a layer of fine ash from the clouds of it you kicked up while making the attempt. You’d get high marks for determination, but not much else. That’s definitely not the right approach.


Now picture yourself using the vacuum you use to keep your carpets looking nice.
That’s a better idea, at least on the surface of it, but it’s still probably going to kick up a lot of ash, all of which is going to get all over everything inside your home. Then there’s another problem. What if you only think the fire is out? What if there are still a few hot embers buried down beneath what looks like cold ash? If that happens, you can kiss your (probably very expensive) vacuum cleaner goodbye. All that hot ash will make short work of the
machinery that keeps it functioning. Of course, the risk of hot ash applies in the first scenario I asked you to envision, except if your straw bristled broom encounters hot ash, then you suddenly find yourself holding a lit torch in the house. Never a good thing.
Problem Solved

As you can imagine, the bad ends that many perfectly good brooms and traditional vacuum cleaners came to was the catalyst that prompted the invention of the ash vac. It’s a fairly specialized piece of equipment, and given the grimy nature of its job, they’re ruggedly engineered and built to stand up to the special challenges that ash can present.

The first objective of a vacuum cleaner of this sort is to minimize ash. This is generally done by way of a whole system of filters, with each layer of filtering capturing ever smaller particles of ash until almost nothing escapes.
That’s a good thing, because the last thing you want to have happen is for you to be wheezing and coughing the whole time you’re trying to use it.
In addition to addressing that problem, of course, the ash vacuum also needs to be able to withstand very high temperatures. This is especially true of its motor and other interior mechanisms. All of these have to be ruggedized in order to withstand the environment you’ll be using the device in.
All in all, if you have a fireplace and/or a wood stove, you’re absolutely going to need an ash vacuum sooner or later.