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are all ash vac’s created equal?

Post in 'The Gear' started by par0thead151, Dec 10, 2009.

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  1. par0thead151

    par0thead151 Feeling the Heat

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    south eastern wisconsin
    im in the market for an ash vacuum.
    Can a central vac bag system handle a little ash here and there? i suck up whatever falls out of the insert, and clean up the gasket so as to not let it leak via ash buildup.

    please recommend me a economical and clean ash vac to use, or are the ones at local stores sufficient as they are all pretty much the same?

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  2. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    I bought a Loveless Ash Vacuum but I'm not too happy with it and rarely use it anymore. You have to hold the vacuum intake perpendicular to your ash pile to avoid sucking in coals, and this puts stress on the mating of the metal collar to the metal hose (especially so since my small firebox barely fits it this way), and sooner or later it falls off and cannot be re-attached. Then, it gets plugged a lot since you can't avoid pulling coals in and it is very sensitive to plugging up, and is a pita to unplug.

    If you have a much bigger firebox, or a fireplace, I could see where this would work ok (but not great). But I find that it is just as easy and clean to shovel the ash out with a shovel.
  3. par0thead151

    par0thead151 Feeling the Heat

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    i always manage to get a buildup of ash on my gasket/seal. it builds up on top of the seal, so i like to clean it off with the vacuum every time i notice there is a large amount built up.
    im just worried that this ash will eventually cause problems for my central vacuum.
    oh, and i also have a small fire box.
    2.5 cubic feet.
  4. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    No. Some are far bigger rip-offs than others.
  5. par0thead151

    par0thead151 Feeling the Heat

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    ok, who is happy with their ash vac's?
    what make model are they?
    how much did you pay for them?
    thanks
  6. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Essentially there are two issues -

    1. Safety - a regular vac has lots of flammable parts, starting with the dust catcher and going from there, not to mention that most household dust is also flammable... They also have a great "bellows" function by nature of moving so much air through them... If you suck up an ember, you have very good odds of ending up with a flame-throwing vac... :bug: I would NOT use a central vac for this reason - you can't see the dust collector to monitor it, it has lots of places for embers to get stuck, mostly inside the walls, and if it does catch fire, you can't pick it up and chuck it out the door... The exception is if the fire is LONG out and you are 1,000% (yes the three zeroes are intentional) certain that there is no chance of a live ember being present, then it might be OK subject to #2

    2. Particles... Wood ash tends to have a very fine particle size, is quite abrasive, and can be corrosive if it gets damp. Ash will make it through many kinds of dust catchers and filters, with the possible exception of some of the "HEPA" type filters - using the vac to redistribute ashes all over the house tends to have low Wife Approval Factor... If, like some units, the motor uses the vacuumed air for cooling, or even worse, has the dust going through the motor, this can also drastically shorten the motor life... Since most central vacs have outside exhaust the dust getting through isn't a huge problem, but dust in the motor might be, depending on the vac.

    The Ash Vacs are supposedly designed to deal with both issues - they have non-combustible hoses and innards (though you still shouldn't suck up embers) and the filters are supposed to be designed to stop ashes from getting out... I haven't owned one, so I don't know for sure... My own tactic is to use a broom during burning season, and a shop vac when cleaning up, LONG after the fire is out...

    Gooserider
  7. Drifthopper

    Drifthopper Member

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  8. mnowaczyk

    mnowaczyk Member

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    Delaware
    I get ash spillage in front of my stove, wood chips, bark, etc. It's not too bad to sweep off the tile, but inevitably, some gets on the wood floor, and it's much harder to get out of the cracks... gets under teh carpet etc. I need to vacuum this, and started resaerching a central vacuum to kill two birds. I was initially thinking of installing a shop vac setup in the basement below the fireplace, near the ash dump for our fireplace, and installing a hookup next to the fireplace. Thinking about how to install a hookup led to the central vac research. It seems like if you want the best of both worlds: a powerful safe vacuum for ashes and fireplace cleanup.... plus something to clean your house, two separate systems are the smart way to go. I guess the trouble of installing a central vac system is so much bigger than the concept of installing a single point vacuum for the fireplace that it would make sense to have two separate systems.

    So now does anyone have any good ideas for an ash vac / shop vac setup? I doubt I'd be using the setup for bigtime ash removal, just the cleanup around the stove, which might get done multiple times a day.

    I assume I'd need a wall switch and a hose to keep near the fireplace. I'd think that a plastic hose would be fine for the system parts near the fire. I'd want to make sure everything that's out of site is non-flamable though. At least a metal canister (as opposed to the 3 plastic rigid brand i already own) ... come to think of it, a paper filters in those rigid brands would probably be a bad idea too. So looking into all this... maybe an ash vac is the way to go... especially if you can get an ash vac inexpensively. Are there any ash vacs that are similar to shop vacs?
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