If embers and ashes are despoiling your fireplace, you have a choice. Clean it out the old-fashioned way, get coated with dust, and make a royal mess – or neatly suction out the gunk in a jiffy with a specialised ash vacuum.
An ash vacuum is no ordinary vacuum; it is more like the Incredible Hulk of vacuums. The analogy is a meaningful one because if your regular home vacuum cleaner is used to clean ashes from a fireplace, it will leak dust, choke, melt, or even start to smoke and burn in its innards.
An ash vacuum, on the other hand, will make short work of the remnants of a fire. In construction, ash vacuums are distinct from ordinary vacuums on three main counts. First, they have an effective multi-stage filtration system. Second, their interior parts are made of metal alloys. Third, they are flame-retardant and fire-resistant. In addition, as a rule, ash vacuums are more powerful than ordinary vacuums which just won’t do if you want to clean out embers and ashes from a hearth or any other remnants of some fire.
So now you’re sold and want to buy an ash vacuum, but how to choose one? Well, when evaluating your choices you would need to look into each ash vac’s suitability for your purpose and also check out its features. But give due consideration, above all, to the intangibles such as reliability and ease-of-cleaning.
If your family loves a warm, snug fireplace, you had better love a tough effective ash vacuum. However, apart from fireplaces, an ash vacuum is just the thing to keep barbecue grills, log burners, and pellet stoves neat and clean. These different receptacles for fire have different cleaning needs, and a different make and model of ash vacuum is best-suited to each of them.
For instance, if your grill has nooks and crannies you will need a crevice tool attachment but if your log burning stove is flat and accessible, you don’t need to worry about a crevice-cleaning attachment.
As another example, a state-of-the-art filtration system would be overkill if your ash vacuum is used to clean an outdoor grill but it is very desirable if it is meant to vac up your hearth. On the other hand, for the latter usage, a long electrical cord would be unnecessary but for the former usage, it would be useful and desirable. And an ash vacuum meant to clean a little charcoal grill need not be quite as sturdy and fire-resistant as one meant to clean a big log burner, whose embers and ashes can remain hot for days.
Last update on 2021-09-24 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
Let’s start with our best pick –
The term ‘heavy-duty powerhouse’ only begins to describe BACOENG’s rig; it has a very good filtration system and is rugged and durable to boot.
BACOENG 15-litre ash vac is powered by an 800-watt motor. It has a dual filtration system comprising of a Dacron-type filter and a HEPA filter.
Designed for only cold ash but capable of dealing with somewhat non-cold ash, this vac is a suctioning powerhouse yet it is on the quiet side, which is surprising for such a powerful rig.
A helpful gauge indicates the amount of ash accumulated on the Dacron filter. However, sometimes the gauge can indicate 100 percent ash coverage on the filter when it is only half-covered with ash.
This vacuum is bagless and ashes are collected in the canister itself. It is one of the easiest vacs to empty and clean, and because it has such a large capacity you will have to work really hard to fill it up.
This big unit is quite rugged and is durable. It is not as prone to clogging or cut-offs as some other vacs.
The hose and nozzle can be attached to the top of the casters or the lid for easy stowing.
For a mid-priced ash vac not to have a flat nozzle attachment to get into crevices is a bad show.
The 1.5-metre hose is metal-lined. The power cord is a very decent 4.5 metres long.
An ash vac for those who don’t want anything but the best and don’t mind stumping up an extra pound or two to get it.
- Raw power, ruggedness, and durability are a hard-to-find combination.
- Very easy to empty and clean.
- The dual filtration system works very well.
- No crevice-cleaning attachment.
- The fill-level gauge can incorrectly indicate an ash-covered filter.
If you want solid suctioning and blowing capability but can skimp on features and must skimp on price, then go for First4Spares’s ash vac.
First4Spares’s 800-watt ash vac has a 15-litre capacity.
It has more suctioning power than one might expect. In a pinch it can even handle soot and clinker but only when everything has cooled down.
This vac can be used with or without a bag – but don’t make the mistake of using it without one when you are indoors. Though warm ash can be suctioned if no bag is attached, the downside is that fine dust gets blown out from the vent. As such, go bagless only when you are vacuuming outdoors.
The filter needs to be cleaned more often than most; if it gets ash-clogged, problems will arise: ash may get in the motor housing or the vac will spew ash and dust. Ash and dust will also be blown out if the rubber ring is not sealed properly along the top of the inner receptacle. Just take the time to empty and clean it regularly, and this budget kit will work wonders.
First4Spares’s ash vac also doubles as a blower. Vac or blower, it operates relatively quietly – or not as loudly as some others.
This rugged rig is relatively easy to clean.
It has no casters but is quite light. The hose is short by design as this vac is purpose-made for small jobs. The electric cord does not retract and the vacuum has no brackets or hooks around which you can wrap it.
All said, this kit is excellent value for money and it is a solid choice for the budget-conscious buyer.
- Over and above ash, it can hoover up soot and clinker.
- Offers choice between suctioning directly into the canister or using a bag.
- Excellent value for money.
- The filter gets clogged and needs to be cleaned very frequently.
- The power cord can neither be wrapped nor does it retract.
An all-round little kit whose filter demands regular attention, Tacklife’s ash vac provides both solid suctioning and blowing at an incredibly low price.
Tacklife’s ash vac has an 800-watt motor and 18-litre capacity. It works very well for ash and dust but if there are any cinders or any bits and pieces, it chokes. However, it has a useful mesh nozzle attachment to keep such larger bits and pieces from entering the vacuum.
The hose’s interior is metal so somewhat warm ashes will not damage it.
The filter is billed as being fire-resistant but the filtration system is the weak point. The filter gets clogged very quickly and needs to be cleaned very regularly, preferably after each use. As long as the filter is clean Tacklife’s vac suctions very effectively.
This vac doubles as a blower; to utilize the blowing function you have to attach the hose to the orange socket.
It is lightweight and easy to carry around but is rather loud in operation.
At 5 metres, the power cable scores points for this vac but the same can’t be said for the 1-metre length of the hose.
There is no crevice-cleaning attachment but perhaps that is to be expected in an inexpensive kit. Tacklife provides a two-year warranty.
An ash vac for those who want a rock-bottom price and can put up with frequent cleanings, it is our alternate Value Pick.
- This dual-use kit also serves as a handy-dandy blower.
- Mesh nozzle attachment and metal-lined hose.
- For its price, it offers a lot of suction.
- The filter can get clogged quite quickly and needs to be cleaned very regularly.
- Somewhat noisy in operation.
VonHaus’s kit is an average-price ash vac with above-average features, it is easy to clean, and has great build quality; thus it is really good value.
The VonHaus ash vac under review has an 800-watt motor and 15-litre capacity. VonHaus makes this same style of vacuum in a 1200-watt 20-litre model too.
It has very strong suction but is not meant to hoover up warm ash.
Both the cloth filter and HEPA filter are washable. The HEPA filter attachment system is cleverly designed so that when it is attached correctly, it will lock a small button in place that will allow the motor to start; if the HEPA filter is not attached correctly, the motor will not start.
An internal cut-off protects the motor from overheating; if it heats up past a critical point, the vacuum will shut down until the motor cools.
The filter clogs up quickly and particulate matter will block it even more quickly. Fortunately, it is very easy to clean by tapping it against the side of a bin or a wall and shaking it.
VonHaus’s vac is on the noisy side. The plastic hose’s interior is lined with metal. At 1.25 metres, it is on the short side. A handy mesh nozzle attachment is supplied. The power cord’s length is specified at 4 metres but it is actually just over 2 metres long.
A useful crevice tool is supplied, and both it and the regular nozzle fit into sockets on the top of the unit for easy storage.
This rig’s build quality is excellent and it is very robust. Though it does not have wheels, it is very light.
VonHaus provides a two-year warranty.
A very good choice for pragmatic buyers who want a well-designed vac with useful features at a fair price.
- Motor will not start if HEPA filter not correctly attached, and motor cut-off circuitry.
- Dual-filtration system, and also very easy to clean.
- This robust rig is of excellent build quality.
- The filter is prone to clogging very quickly.
- The ‘4-metre’ power cord is, in fact, only about 2 metres.
Balancing out two or three useful features and accessories is the fact that Maxi’s ash vac clogs quite often and sometimes even gives up the ghost.
Cost: Price not available
Maxi’s ash vacuum has an 800-watt motor and a 15-litre capacity. It is a bagless type of ash vac. It is not meant to hoover up warm ash.
It has a helpful indicator to show the amount of ash in the canister.
The filter gets clogged very quickly, and as it gets clogged, the way this vac loses suction is very pronounced. If the motor is straining because of a clogged filter or has heated past a certain point, it will cut off. Clean the filter or let the unit cool down and you’ll be able to start it again. The problem is that this happens far too often so that you may have to clean the filter twice or thrice during a single vacuuming job. The hose is also prone to clogging.
Maxi has a quality control issue as some number of these vacs just shut up shop after being used a few times.
Both the 1-metre hose and the 2-metre power cord are too short. Also, the hose is not sufficiently flexible.
A very useful crevice-cleaning nozzle is included. The nozzles can be inserted into slots on top of the unit for convenient storage.
Maxi provides a two-year warranty.
Maxi’s kit is like that little girl with the curl – when it works, it’s very good, but when it doesn’t, it’s horrid. It is the right bet for the punter and the gambler!
- The crevice-cleaning nozzle is very useful.
- Comes with a two-year warranty – and you’ll need it if you get a defective unit.
- Loses suction very rapidly as the filter gets clogged – and the filter gets clogged all too fast.
- Some units are defective as they simply quit working after a few uses.
Can You Vacuum Fireplace Ashes?
It depends on which vacuum you intend to use. If you’re thinking of using your day-to-day vacuum, you can’t. Though it may do a fair job of vacuuming ashes, multiple problems will arise. First, the vacuum may not be able to retain fine particles inside the bag; instead it will almost surely release a fine dust into the room.
Next, it will not filter pieces of cinders or warm ash which, respectively, can choke the pipe or damage the bag. Then, if the ashes have not cooled down, which can take a few days, the plastic interior parts of an ordinary vacuum could melt or even catch fire. Finally, regular vacuums’ bags and filters cannot filter fine ash which can, as a result, get inside the motor of an ordinary vacuum and harm it or even ruin it.
On the other hand, you can very much vacuum fireplace ashes with a specialised ash vacuum.
How To Clean An Ash Vacuum Filter
Ash vacuums are equipped with different filters, and they are cleaned in different ways. They can have up to three filters: a primary filter, a secondary filter, and a HEPA cartridge. The first two filters are made of wire mesh and/or fine cloth material. These are removable and cleanable and some of them are washable. The HEPA filter is usually not washable and must be replaced when necessary.
If wire mesh and/or fine cloth filters do not have any special coatings they can usually be washed (but see the manufacturer’s instructions).
Wash the filter by dipping it in mildly soapy lukewarm water, agitating it – swooshing it around – and gently rubbing it to remove caked dust, doing so until clean. Hold the filter under running water for a final wash. Allow it to dry out completely before re-use. If the filter is not washable, clean it by blowing off dust with compressed air (‘canned air’), and by using a small hand-held vacuum to suction dust off it.
Clean the filter regularly; a good guideline is to clean it each time you change the bag or empty the canister.
Remember to remove all filters outdoors – not to mention clean them outdoors – as even removing a filter can be a messy job.
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.