When it comes to fireplace safety, what you do after the fire has gone out is almost as important as what you do while the fire is still burning. When done incorrectly, ash removal and disposal can lead to accidental fires, property damage, and even injuries to you or your loved ones. Because of this, it is important to know how to properly dispose of your wood ashes.
How are ashes dangerous?
While ashes are a nuisance, most of us do not think of them as being a danger. However, ashes can hide pockets of coals and embers; when the ashes are moved and the embers are given oxygen, they can reignite and continue to burn. Fire officials warn that “wood ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days.”
Common – but improper – ash disposal methods
Many of our easy and convenient methods of ash disposal are also improper – and unsafe. The following are some common but incorrect ash disposal methods.
- Scooping ashes into combustible containers: If you collect your ashes in paper bags, cardboard boxes, or other combustible containers you are at higher risk of starting an accidental fire. Coals or embers in the ashes could come into contact with the combustible container and cause it to ignite either in your home or in the garbage.
- Dumping ashes directly into the trash: Ashes should not be dumped into or stored with trash because of the risk of fire. Ashes should only be bagged and thrown away after a minimum of three days in a proper ash container; before throwing ashes into your trash, check with your local sanitation company for rules or regulations regarding ash disposal.
- Vacuuming ashes: Even shop vacs or vacuums with a HEPA filter may not be equipped to clean up fireplace ashes. In addition to causing the ashes to go airborne, any coals left in the ashes can seriously damage your vacuum, if not start a fire within the bag or container.
Proper ash disposal
There are several steps and precautions that all homeowners should take when disposing of ashes.
- Wait at least 24 hours after the fire has extinguished to collect the ashes.
- Do not add live embers or coals to an ash bucket.
- Collect ashes in a metal ash bucket. Ash buckets should sit off of the ground and have a tight fitting lid.
- Store ash bucket in a well ventilated area and away from any combustible materials.
- If needed, add small amounts of water to the ash bucket to help extinguish any embers. This should be done outdoors in case any smoke is produced.
- Wait at least three days before placing ashes in with regular garbage. Ideally, ashes should be stored in the ash bucket as long as there is room.Disposing of your ashes the right way can make your home a safer place and help you better enjoy your fireplace. Contact Mason’s Chimney Service today for more information on proper ash removal and storage.