Cleaning fireplaces

A warming wood fire in an open fireplace is the perfect backdrop to a cozy hour at home, its flickering flames creating a relaxed atmosphere of contentment. However, there is an inconvenient downside to heating with wood: before the next fire can be lit, the fireplace has to be cleaned and the old ashes removed.

Open fires are cleaned with an ash vacuum cleaner

Removing old ashes

Sweeping out ashes from the fireplace with a dustpan and brush is a dirty and awkward job because ash is very light and quickly swirls around. So it makes sense to use a vacuum cleaner to remove the ash. Conventional vacuum cleaners, however, cannot cope with this job and should not be used here. 

Ash is vacuumed from the fireplace with an ash vacuum cleaner

Why can't I use a regular vacuum cleaner?

Household vacuum cleaners are not suitable for vacuuming fireplaces. The fine particles of ash quickly block the filter and suction turbine, which leads to a loss of performance and, in the worst case, motor failure. It is better to use an ash vacuum cleaner, which allows your work to be dust-free and convenient too.

The filters for ash vacuum cleaners are designed so that even fine particles of ash can be reliably vacuumed. Moreover, ash vacuum cleaners must fulfill certain safety requirements: a metal suction hose and flame-resistant canister prevent remnants of embers from damaging the vacuum cleaner or starting a smouldering fire.

In order to clean the filter effectively to prevent blockages, ash vacuum cleaners also have a unique cleaning function. There are models on which you can press a button to change the direction of the air flow to clean the filter effectively. This doesn't create any dust for the user since the dust is routed straight back into the canister.

Working safely work with an ash vacuum cleaner

Before starting work, the ash should be allowed to cool to a temperature below 104 °F. Use a poker to examine large pieces of wood for embers. Only start vacuuming when you are sure that there are no hidden embers in the fireplace. Use just the metal hand tube for vacuuming here – without a nozzle attached.

Once the ash has been vacuumed into the canister, it also has to be emptied out again. Therefore, make sure when purchasing models that they are easy to open and can be emptied with as little contact with dirt as possible. Easy-to-use quick-release fasteners, for example, facilitate removal of the suction head.

A bin liner can then be placed over the full canister and carefully turned upside down. This prevents dust from getting into the surroundings.

Ash is vacuumed from a fireplace

Additional application possibilities

An ash vacuum cleaner can be used for more than just vacuuming ash from the fireplace. Cleaning a pellet heater or stove with it is just as easy and convenient. The ash vacuum cleaner can easily remove cold ashes and soot from fire pits and charcoal barbecues.

A number of ash vacuum cleaners are equipped with an additional hard floor nozzle, which allows chips, small pieces of wood and dirt around the fireplace to be vacuumed too. A device like this is a practical aid for renovation work – be it coarse dirt or fine dust, a powerful ash vacuum simply vacuums everything.

Wood splinters are vacuumed with an ash vacuum cleaner
Clean, open fireplace
Ash is vacuumed from a grill with an ash vacuum cleaner

Cleaning stubborn dirt off sooty glass on a wood burning stove

If your wood burning stove has a glass pane, this must also be cleaned regularly.

Thorough cleaning often presents a problem because naked flames leave behind stubborn residue on glass. Conventional cleaning methods, such as scrubbing with a brush and water, using newspaper or chemical cleaners, are usually not completely successful. They are also strenuous and time-consuming.

You can achieve a better result more easily with a steam cleaner. The hot steam, together with the physical effect of cloths and a brush attachment, is very effective here.

Afterwards, wipe clean the glass with a dry cloth. By using this process, you can avoid using cleaning solutions or detergents completely.

The glass pane on a stove is cleaned with a Kärcher steam cleaner
Man with chain saw walks in front of a large wood pile

Tips for reducing soot formation

Wood that is not ready to use when purchased must be stored and dried before it can be burned in a fireplace.

Damp wood reduces the energy value, resulting in increased smoke and soot formation: the fireplace and mantel then get dirty more quickly and have to be cleaned more often. The EPA recommends that wood burns best at a moisture content of less than 20 percent.

A rough way to check this is to use the "nail test": if you can make a slight indentation with your fingernail in the cut face where the tree rings are visible, it should be left to dry for a few more months.

An ideal storage place is an area protected from the elements with good air circulation, such as stacked against a shed or garage.

Suitable products for cleaning the fireplace

At this time we do not offer an ash vacuum for purchase in the USA. Should we add this product to our lineup, we will update this page. We do however offer a steam cleaner for cleaning glass panes on fireplaces or wood burning stoves: 

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