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Wood stove vacuum

Post in 'The Gear' started by Kenster, Nov 26, 2010.

  1. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    I've been watching a "Cool Tools" marathon on the DYI channel. Just saw a neat look shop vac made by Snap On tools. It's basically an easy to carry box. It's called the Snap On Box Vac. Just wondering if any of you have ever tried one of these vacs and how it would work with wood ash. It does have a HE Hepa filter. My Bride would become a self-made widow if I spewed ash all over the house. I already stir up enough when I scoop out the ashes.

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  2. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Key to ash is to move slowly.
  3. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Kenster, the problem with using a vacuum is there can very easy be some hot coals and you might not see them. This can cause some bad scenes that your bride or you would not like.

    Dune is right. Handle ashes as though it were explosives. I learned this when I was a young lad of about 6. It was my chore to tend the ashes and that was my beginning with wood heat. All the rest of the chores eventually became mine. I recall the first time I emptied ashes from the stove. I also had a lot of house cleaning to do after the ashes were done. I did not like that at all, so it was important to learn how to do it without the mess. I found it to be very easy.

    Simply, move slowly and gently. When you have the ashes on the shovel, make sure you don't have too many so that they will fall out of the shovel. Slowly bring the shovel out of the stove and very slowly and gently lower it into the ash container. Now the real important part. Never dump ashes! Lay the shovel on the bottom and then lift the handle and slide the shovel out from under the ashes....very slowly and gently.

    You will find this actually very easy to do and you'll wonder why you ever made a mess to begin with. That bride will be very happy with you. Tell her you learned just for her!
  4. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Like Dennis I am very leary of ashes . . . and vacuuming up ash since it is far too easy for a live coal to "hide" in the ash and if and when you suck one of these up you're adding air to it and often placing it in a paper bag filter . . . a bad combination in my own opinion.

    As folks have mentioned the key with ash is to move slowly and deliberately . . . I use an ash pan myself . . . and every week I haul out the ash in the pan . . . again the key being to move slowly and deliberately . . . and don't stumble over the cat.
  5. fishinpa

    fishinpa Member

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    I wanted to chime in here as I was on the fence about geting an ash vacuum last year. I did break down and get one this year (Tractor Supply $99.00) but do not use it after I load the stove for fear of a fire where I do not want one and the nozzle of the vac NEVER gets pointed IN the fire box. A.ctually I turn it on only when the stove door is closed and in need of being loaded

    My cleanup routine:
    I sweep up around the stove after every load, and the wood debris from the fuel goes back into the stove. You can not help but get some floating ash here & there and it starts to build up over a weeks time, or 'the season', however you want to look at it.

    OK, so what I am experimenting with is running the vacuum before I load the stove, when all the items outside the box have been there for several hours, if not overnight. I've been using it to clean under, around, behind and even clean off the catch lip on the front of the stove. (after checking for any heat with bare fingers)

    So far it has really helped make the basement wood stove area a much cleaner place to hang out. (Man cave!)

    Oh yeah: I have also decided to use the ash from the stove this year to help fill in some low spots in the yard. I'll throw some soil over those areas in the spring.
  6. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for replies. I don't burn 24/7. When I do a clean out the stove is dead cold. I've gotten real good at cleaning out with pail and shovel without letting the ashes fly. I use a fine spray mister to lightly dampen the ashes before I scoop them from the stove. I spray into the pail, too, after each scoop. That really keeps the ash dust down.

    So, back to the original question... I'm just wondering if anyone has every used one of the Snap-On Box vacs for cleaning in and around the wood stove. Yes, I understand the cautions regarding hot coals.
    Thanks!
  7. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    I would never use a vac around the fireplace unless the fire was out for at least 48 hours. Even after that long, I would put the vacuum outside where, if it were to catch fire, it would not burn down the house. When I was a kid I almost burned down our family home improperly disposing ashes.
  8. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    I'll answer your question, no, I have never used one and apparently, nobody else has either.
    Strap-on is expensive so you could probably find something cheaper for a shop vac.
    Beware the last little ember you don't see.
  9. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    You can buy an add-on for any shopvac that catches the ashes and dirt in a separate metal canister. Combined with a hepa filter vac, it should be OK provided you store it in such a way that if the contents caught fire you don't burn down the house.

    [​IMG]
  10. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    Dunno about the snap on box but I had a metal shop vac years ago that was supposed to be good for ashes.
    It wasn't as clean as I thought it would be (especially dumping the vac) and got back to a dust pan and brush .
  11. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I'd let it go MUCH MUCH longer than 2 days!

    I have cleaned stoves out a week after not having a fire in them and still having hot coals in the ashes.

  12. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    I think the answer is pretty clear, but I am bored right now, so I will summerize the topic; No way, no how should you vacum inside your stove.
  13. nojo

    nojo New Member

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    The best reason for NOT vacuming inside my stove. The damn filter clogs up WAY too fast.

    Here are a couple ways. Buy a "bucket vac" from lows. Its just a shopvac top that connects to a 5 gal style bucket. Get one of those really tall metal buckets. Use it as the base. Suck up your ashes watch out for big coals. Take it outside and put the metal cover on it.

    Or you could fill the buckup up halfway with water before you vacuum your coals.

    You can also use a metal bucket as a sort of filter for the vacuum. Modify the cover to accept two hoses, one from the vac and one you use as a vac hose. Put water in the bucket and vacuum away.

    I dont even bother with the vacuum anymore becuase the damn filter gets clogged up so fast with the fine ash.
  14. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    You mean like that pic I posted?
  15. Ducky

    Ducky Member

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    since I heat my shop with wood, once the burning season is over, I dont always get to cleaning out the stove for MONTHS later... Plus, here in buffalo, in the spring, cold and rainy and sometimes my job requires me to be outside all day in the cold and rain (think 50-60F) so even tho the stove isnt required to run, ill still have a little fire to warm myself up after my shower...

    that said.... I have, in the past come into contact with HOT coals upto a week of no fires....

    Second, the first year I had the stove i didnt clean it out till like July... Like the genious that I am, I decided, hey! ill use the shop vac and itll be quick and easy.

    First off this worked EXTREMELY well


    For about 10 seconds... LOL! that filter was so packed with ash there was absolutely zero suction from my 5hp craftsman shopvac... Even vacuuming after clean out with the shovel proved disasterous =(

    so... now, I just use the water hose.
  16. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Yup, I believe that for sure!

    I messed up this summer and emptied my burn barrel into a big trash can. I hadn't burned anything in there for about 2 weeks and it had rained a few times so I figured I was safe. Well I had set the can by the barrel and went in the house for a bit. Came back out and the trash can was just a blob of melted plastic!

  17. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    I am so paranoid about sweeping up a hot coal that I won't sweep the hearth into my dustpan after I load the stove. What I do is sweep off the hearth *just before* I open the stove to load it. I then empty the dustpan into the stove. After I'm done loading the stove I will sweep everything onto the stone hearth toward the stove and leave it there until the next loading time.
  18. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    You're not paranoid . . . when I sweep the hearth the bits of coals and ash either goes right into the firebox (I generally sweep when I reload) or I go outside and dump it outside away from the house on the lawn/snow.
  19. MGC67

    MGC67 New Member

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    I use a large beach towel that I get soaking wet. I ring out excess H2O and set on any ash that has fallen out. If im scooping out ash into a bucket, I will gently drape the wet

    towel over the bucket in order to keep fly-away ash from exiting the bucket. Works for me. Just my 2 cents.

    -Mike
  20. nojo

    nojo New Member

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  21. chipsoflyin

    chipsoflyin Member

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    loveless makes a metal ash vac that works well. a little finesse/technique is required.
  22. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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  23. fishinpa

    fishinpa Member

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    The one I referred to earlier, (and bought and have been using) is just about all metal, including the hose with the exception if the filter... but that has a fine mesh metal screen over it. If anyone is serious about an ash vacuum and wants to spend under $100.00, I have found no reason not to recommend this one. (so far)

    Just about every other one I found (last year) cost twice this. I would not mess with anything plastic and I would not expect any of you to either. I have had it a few months and think it is actually a pretty solid purchase... for the $$. (so far)

    I may be being silly, and am not trying to 'flame' anyone here, but who the heck recommends buying a plastic vac setup for a ash vac as posted above?

    http://www.tractorsupply.com/home-i...ood-or-pellet-stove-ash-vacuum-4-gal--3102712
  24. Rich L

    Rich L Minister of Fire

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    Ya simply google wood stove vacuum cleaners.Many models will come up.Goodnight.
  25. bboulier

    bboulier Feeling the Heat

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    Not long after I had convinced my wife that we should by a "hi tech" insert, I decided to use power tools (i.e., the shop-vac) to clean a cold fireplace. Bad mistake. It did not have much of a filter. Took me a long while to notice that the fireplace ashes vacuumed in by the shop-vac were then exhaled as a very, very fine dust on the way out. Only when it started getting smoky in the room did I realize the problem. Was scrambling fast with a regular vacuum on furniture, walls, rugs, etc. before my wife came home. Since then, I have used a shovel. That's a tool I can recommend.

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