Ash Vacuum Filter Systems

Why would you choose a Wood burning stove or fireplace?

Now the temperatures are dropping in the northeast do you find you’re no longer thinking about the long sunny days of picnics and trips to the beach and begin to focus on getting your house warm and inviting ready for the short cold days of winter.  The wood stove and fireplace are a very popular choice in the colder areas of the country because they not only give warmth, but a cosy and welcoming feel to your room.  They do come with their own set of problems, mostly in the form of ash and dust.

Ash-vacuum-is-a-very-efficient-tool

With every problem there is usually a solution.

The loudest complaint from anyone who has a wood stove, a pellet stove, a multi fuel stove and a fireplace is from the person who has to clean it.  Trying to get the ash out of your stove or fireplace can be a thankless task and quite often you’re left with another mess to clear up or a fine layer of dust over the entire room when you’re finished.  It is enough to put off the most stalwart of stove and fireplace enthusiasts.

But doing it by hand isn’t the only answer, another solution is an ‘Ash Vac’.  That’s right, a vacuum that is specially designed to suck up the dust from your stove and fireplace with minimal mess.  We can’t stress enough that is not recommended that you use your regular vacuum cleaner for the job.  Ash vacuums are designed with a key filtration system and some other important features, including:

  • It must be fire resistant.  Sometimes the ash you think is cold, still has some hot embers within it.  Ash can stay hot for a surprising amount of time.
  • The ash vacuum filtration system catches the ash particles, be it wood, pellet or coal and they are much smaller than common dust, otherwise it may damage the motor and get blown into the room.
  • The filters are easy to clean.  The filters will get clogged up every now and then which causes a loss in suction or even motor damage.  Fortunately, most vacuums are fitted with a protection against overheating which switches off the motor to prevent further damage.

The science bit

Two layers of the PowerSmith ash vacuum filter

Ash vacuum manufacturers use a variety of filtrations that make sure every ash particle that gets sucked into the vacuum will stay in the vacuum.  It poses quite a challenge to the designers as each level of filtration requires more power from the motor to pull the air past it.

Almost all ash vacuums are fitted with a bag filter attached to the canister rim.  They’re made from a few fibreglass layers, depending on the system applied.  This is usually the first defence against the heat and ash.

 

The primary filters often get clogged by small ash particles causing a significant loss of suction.  A few vacuums are fitted with a small agitator rod on the outside of the vacuum.  Just give the rod a little shake and it will knock ash off the filters to restore your suction.  This is a smart way to clean the primary filter without opening the vacuum.  Most vacuums’ primary filters should be cleaned when you empty the cannister.  This is messy work and should be done outside, or in the workshop.

If the ash vac is not fitted with a wire or mesh cage its good practice to avoid filling the cannister too full to keep the filter from touching the ashes.  Hot embers may accidently come into contact with the filter and burn a hole in it.  Unfortunately, there is no way round it and you will have to replace the filter straight away if this happens.The PowerSmith-fireplace-vacuum-bag-filter-is-washable

Some ash vacs are fitted with a secondary filtration system. Usually that’s a HEPA filter which is meant to catch even tiniest of particles.  They should be cleaned quite often by shaking off, or blowing the dust out with a compressed air canister.  Cheetah and Cougar, the American vacuums by Loveless use a cloth as a secondary filter mainly to protect the motor.  This filter can be washed with soap and water, but needs to be completely dry before it is used again.

When cleaning ash vacuum filters or emptying the canister try to avoid touching or making any other contact with the inside of the filter.  Any dust left on the inner surface of filter will get blown into your room once you start the motor – that’s why it’s good to go outside and start the vacuum after the filters’ reinstallation just to blow out any ash and dust particles that may have escaped.

 

 

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