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When to empty ashes?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by RayBurner, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. RayBurner

    RayBurner New Member

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    My question is when to empty ashes? Do I let my Quad 5100 cool all the way down and let the furnace kick on? Do you remove hot coals? Also how often? I know this has many variables but was just wondering if it is weekly, etc??

    I am brand new to running an insert 24/7.

    Thanks for all your information--what an awesome site this is!!

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  2. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Do it while the stove is still warm, because the warmth helps the chimney draft, which tends to suck dust back into the stove so you're less likely to have a cloud of ash floating out into the room. A good time is first thing in the morning, when the night fire has burned down to mostly ash and a few coals. Leave as many of the coals behind as possible. I'm not sure why, but some people like to leave a bed of ashes, only removing enough to keep it manageable. How often it's necessary depends on how much wood you're going through; in very cold weather it might be every day or so.
  3. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Oh, and remember to only put the ashes into a noncombustible container and immediately take them outside to a safe place, away from combustible materials.
    firefighterjake likes this.
  4. WES999

    WES999 Minister of Fire

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    Once a week, ( on the weekend) I let the stove cool down so there are no more hot coals.
    I shovel the ashed into the pan as shown in the pic. I place a slightly larger pan upside down over
    the first to act as a cover. I bring the pan outside and leave it in a safe non combustible place.

    Click on the pic link, it won't display.

    Attached Files:

  5. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    It's recommended to leave a layer on the bottom to act as an insulator. I've never noticed the difference in my stove. If it's cold, I clean it out pretty good. You can move coals to one side, shovel, then move them to the other side and finish up. No need to let the stove go cold.

    My stove is really deep and holds a lot of ash before it needs to come out. Empty it when the ash spills out the door or you can't fit enough wood in.
  6. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    I empty them when they start falling out of the door. I start by raking the coals to one side then shovel the ashes then repeat on the other side. Then i take my metal ash can and put it outside on concrete.
  7. binko

    binko Member

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    If you have an option-retrofit an ashpan. Rake the ashes over the grate and into the pan-empty twice a week. No more dust in the air and no need to time it just right.
  8. AppalachianStan

    AppalachianStan Minister of Fire

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    I have heard that you need 2" of ashes in the bottom of the stove for best performance. I don't like the ashes spilling out the door so I keep about 1/2" in the bottom an rake the rest to the ash pan after about 3 days before you load the stove take the ash pan outside and empty. No ash dust in the air.
  9. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    When I reload, I push all of the ash and coals to the back and then rake the coals to the front. Every couple of days, I shovel some of the ash out in
    the back of the stove. No mess, no letting the stove cool off. My ash pan works fine too, but it's just easier this way.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    When they are starting to spill out the door.
  11. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I don't wait until the ashes are falling out the door before I remove them. In my stove that would mean there are enough ashes to significantly reduce the space available for wood. I remove ashes every couple of days. I don't wait until the stove is cold, but usually there are opportunities for me to remove ashes when the stove is cool because fire has burnt down to just a few coals while I was out of the house or overnight. If there are coals larger than an inch or so I will rake a pile of coals to one side, remove the ash, and use the coals to restart the stove. If the coals are mostly gone I remove everything and start fresh. I don't leave a layer of ash in the stove - that would just mean I have to remove ash more frequently. I don't think a layer of ash makes a big difference in the performance of my stove.

    I put my ash and coals in a metal can with a metal lid. There are a pair of bricks in the backyard just far enough from the porch steps that I can place the can on the bricks without stepping into the snow. This is the only place the can ever rests. I have a wood porch so I have to put the ash can somewhere besides the porch. I spread the ash in the gardens and woods. I have two acres so no spot gets very many ashes.
  12. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    When I'm burning steady ash, maple etc, its once a week. When I'm burning mostly oak, once every two weeks. The species of wood you burn has a lot to do with how much ash accumulates in the firebox.......oak is one of the best in terms of very little ash.....
  13. Stegman

    Stegman Feeling the Heat

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    I've read this before on this forum and it sounds like an old wives' tale to me. My question is: an insulator for what? Isn't the point of a woodstove to provide heat? Why would you want to "insulate" the bottom of it? Maybe what they mean is that the ashes insulate the firebox from the cold outside, but that makes no sense to me either. Within 30 seconds of start-up, the stove is hotter than the ambient room temperature.

    Granted, I'm pretty science-challenged, but I would love for someone to explain to me what this means [and dumb it down as much as possible!]. ;)

    As for the original question, I clean out my ashes every few days. I try to keep as many coals in there as possible, but sometimes I also get it down to bare iron. Don't see any difference between restarting with a layer of ash in there or restarting with nothing in there [though I do have real good draft].
  14. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Member

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    Crimeny - I wish I could go up to once/week.

    I empty the ash pan every day. If I didn't have an ash pan, could probably go longer. But on the F50 if I don't empty it daily then removal of the pan can be clumsy and messy.
  15. Lumber-Jack

    Lumber-Jack Minister of Fire

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    As others have said, it depends on the kind of wood you are burning and how much you burn. I empty mine when I notice too much ash in the bottom of the stove and it's starting to spill out on opening the door. Sometimes you can just rake them around a bit and they'll compact down and go a little longer before cleaning them out.
    Hauling a few coals out with the ash is no shame, in fact it's pretty common, that why the ashes should be stored in a fireproof container (with a lid) outside, on a non-combustible surface. Lots of house fires start from improper storage of ashes. I don't like to store mine, so I spread them on the snow on the garden or lawn area.

    There are no real hard an fast rules of exactly when to empty the ashes except one, the one time when you don't want to clean the ashes out of the stove is when you have a roaring fire going, but you probably knew that already, right? ;)
  16. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    I wonder if the thought on leaving ashes behind was with old stoves that did not have fire brick on the floor. I would think fire brick should insulate just fine. Leaving and inch or two on the floor would use up a good deal of room in my tiny fire box.
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I shovel about once a month.
  18. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    The ash is what keeps the coals there for extending the burn time.
  19. chvymn99

    chvymn99 Minister of Fire

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    With the limited size of stove that I have it's dependent on how I'm burning. If I'm burning 24/7 then it's usually every 24 hours, but if I allow it to fully cycle I can get away with every 2-3 days. I have more issues with it coaling up, trying to keep heat cycle up. But I usually am burning some harder wood at this time too.
  20. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    I burn at night while Im home from work, when I get home from work I remove all the ash i can, this helps activate the heat activated blower alot quicker and after my kindling burns down I have some ash on the bottom to act as an insulator. I can fit alot more wood in too.
  21. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    It's certainly time to clean the ashes out when you can't get big overnighter splits in any more.

    One can only push them to the back away from spilling out the door and keep loading shorter and shorter pieces of wood for so long.
  22. joescho

    joescho Feeling the Heat

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    I'm not necessasarily a neat freak, but it gets on my nerves when ashes spill out every time I open the door.

    I take a little out each day when it starts getting full. I leave the container in the well of my Bilko doors. Only concrete steps there and its covered but its kind of outside.
  23. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    It's amazing to me how small a volume the ash takes up after the coals burn down. I've been letting the coals burn down, usually on a weekend, and using the ash scoop to empty as much as I can. Tough do when it's real cold though, but hopefully the worst's behind us now.
  24. sailor61

    sailor61 Burning Hunk

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    With my Fireview, burning 24/7, it seems to go a week to 10 days between clean outs. I leave a bed of about 1/2 inch of ash to protect the bottom firebricks from the heat, add some padding when I drop a split in and to help to regulate the coals as I rekindle the fire. I do see a decline, for about the first load, in how the stove burns if I get too ambitious and empty the ash out completely. I let the stove burn down pretty well, stir the remains up a bit and then shovel about 3/4 of the bottom clean. Spread the remaining ash/coals into an even layer and toss in a couple of smallish splits, leave the loading door open for a couple minutes and then it's back in business.
  25. Pallet Pete

    Pallet Pete Guest

    I would rake coals forward let them burn down a bit reload do this in a cycle each time. The coals in the front will let the stove light again easily when you load up. Once a day just scoop the gray ash in the front into a bucket it should only be 2 or 3 scoops and this will leave the red hot ash behind. After the gray ash buildup is scooped just rake the hot ash forward again. If you let it build up over time the box has less space to fill and in a house your size that could be a problem.

    Pete
    etiger2007 likes this.

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