In a new Chimney Safety Institute of America video for homeowners, we asked CSIA Instructor Rich Rua of A Traditional Sweep in Portsmouth, Rhode Island for his tips on handling the ash remains of freshly burned firewood. We want everyone to enjoy their solid fuel appliance, but also be safe.
Because homeowners lack a temperature-sensing tool, they can be potentially fooled by the appearance of ashes, which might look benign but are plenty powerful enough to cause a fire after they’ve been removed from the fireplace or wood stove. Unintended fires have been reported this fall in Vermont, prompting a warning from a fire department.
“There’s going to be a time when the firewood is consumed that you are going to have to maintain your fireplace for the next burn cycle,” said Rua. “Never remove the burned embers until the ashes have gone completely out, and place those ashes in a non-combustible container with a seal-able lid. And keep the container away from any structure because it can rekindle and re-ignite, even through the can.”
Rua encourages an insulated bed of ash about 1 to 2 inches thick to encourage the next load of firewood to burn. He never cleans the ashes entirely after each use, with the exception being the end of the burning season.
Just remember: “live” coals remain can remain embedded in ash and can hold their hot temperature for days.
For more about ash handling, see our website for free information.
“Fireplaces are entertainment sources as well as provide warmth for your house,” Rua said. “Enjoy it, but being safe is our primary concern.”
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