What is an ash vacuum?
Ash vacuums are specifically designed to clean your pellet-burning or wood-burning fireplaces and stoves. They can also be used to clean barbecue grills. The two main differences between an ash vacuum cleaner and a regular household vacuum cleaner is that they are manufactured to withstand heat from potentially hot ash and also collect ultra-fine dust particles that will escape most household vacuum cleaners.
Using your regular household vacuum cleaner to clean ash could lead to damage so it’s best to save it for its intended purpose. Ash vacuums are affordable (priced between $40 and $100) and if you have the space to store one, well worth the investment as regular cleaning of your fireplace, wood stove, or pellet stove, will prolong their usable lives.
What is a soot vacuum?
A soot vacuum makes removing soot and keeping your combustion based appliances clean and tidy safe, simple and efficient. It’s rare that homeowners own their own soot vacuum. Typically, you would hire the services of a professional who would bring these machines to your home.
Unlike other waste products produced as a result of the combustion process such as ash, soot is actually considered hazardous pollutant, which has been linked to many health conditions. For this reason, it is essential to use the proper equipment to remove the soot efficiently and safely.
This is where soot vacuums step in. These are appliances built to handle the task in every way that normal vacuums cannot.
Quick Picks: Soot and Ash Vacuum Reviews
The Mastercraft Soot Master range has a long and solid reputation and is definitely a great choice for anyone looking for a portable, efficient and reliable soot cleaner.
This soot vacuum is equipped with a double filtration system meaning you won’t have to worry about any of the dust and mess associated with traditional vacuum cleaners.
Above the basket is a practical basket holder where you can easily store the hose when not in use. This is ideal for storage and when you need to move it around the house. It also has a 3 and a half gallon capacity, which makes it able to collect and store more than enough soot for several sessions.
The Kimo Cordless Ash Vacuum is the perfect solution for collecting ash, soot, dust and all other fire associated debris.
The powerful suction is more than capable of collecting particles of all sizes and the large capacity means you won’t have to empty it as routinely as more budget units.
All of the vacuums components are fire resistant, which offers the peace of mind needed when cleaning out ash and fireplace debris that can remain hot for some time.
The hose, container are metallic, while the filter inside is made from a heat resistant material.
Accessories can be purchased for an additional cost and include all the essential clean up tools, such as brushes, crevice devices and storage bag. Overall, a top quality ash vacuum that is well worth the investment.
What is Soot? How does it differ from Ash & Dust?
Dust is broadly defined as particles in the atmosphere that derive from a wide range of sources including soil and pollution. Dust particles are often much larger than soot particulate matter and are not the result of the combustion process.
Ash and soot are both waste products that result from the burning of carbon fuel sources such as in a fireplace, stove, or furnace. The ashes are the solid remains that are mostly white in color. This is due to them no longer containing non-gaseous or non-liquid residues; a common example is the ashes that remain from a wood fire.
Soot is also a waste product; however, it is the product of the incomplete combustion of carbon, which occurs during the burning of common types of fuels such as coal, wood, gas and oil.
Unlike ash, soot is a much smaller particle, typically 0.1 microns, which is considerably smaller than ash particles, which average at between 1 to 10 microns.
Why Do You Need to Remove Soot?
Soot, also sometimes referred to as black carbon is able to become an airborne pollutant that can penetrate deep into the lungs and potentially cause diseases such as cancer. This is why whenever you disturb and clean soot you need to do it with care.
Not only can soot be harmful to your health, but it can also cause considerable environmental damage to your home, often in the form of soot stains on walls, floors, ceilings and furnishings.
What is the Best Hot Ash Vacuum Cleaner?
Ash vacuums make cleaning ash far easier than the old fashioned method of using a shovel and bucket. With good storage, you clean your fireplace or stove multiple times before needing to empty the vacuum. Here are some other considerations to help in choosing the best ash vacuum cleaner:
What is the vacuum suction power?
You’ll want to check the motor amp rating to get an idea for the suction power. Models ranges from 3 amps to 10 amps or more for commercial models.
What is the dust filtration system?
Ash vacuums might come with replaceable or reusable HEPA filters. To filter out fine dust particles, you’ll want a model with a good, reusable HEPA filter and washable filter bag.
Can the vacuum be used on hot ashes?
Most ash vacuums are made to withstand some heat but they are recommended for use with hot ashes from a recent fire. You’ll want to check that the vacuum has a metal lined hose and steel container to absorb heat from warm ashes. Most models do and some provide a heat rating though I doubt you’ll be measuring the heat of your ashes before you clean them!
Can the ash vacuum be used for other purposes?
Some ash vacuums are multipurpose and can also be used as regular vacuums or as shop vacuums for water and other needs. Some are designed specifically for the purpose of cleaning ash. If you don’t want to store another vacuum cleaner specifically for the purpose of cleaning ash, consider a model that has more flexibility.
Our recommended ash vacuums
The BACOENG 5.3-Gallon Ash Vacuum Cleaner with double stage filtration system is our choice for the best combination of powerful cleaner, exception storage, durability, and flexibility for other uses. We also like the Kimo Cordless Ash Vacuum for it’s performance and superior convenience.
What is the Best Soot Vacuum?
Now that you are aware of the dangers of soot, you probably understand why it’s so important to remove it as efficiently as possible. In our view, that’s why soot vacs are so useful, as they will do the job normal vacuums can’t handle, since they simply don’t have the required power nor filter type.
With that said, here are some of the most important features to look for in a soot vacuum cleaner.
Does it have a HEPA filter?
HEPA is an acronym for High Efficiency Particulate Air. In order for vacuum filters to be recognized as HEPA they are required to remove 99.97% of particles in the air that are 0.3 microns and above. Since soot is such a small particulate, using a soot vacuum that is able to efficiently collect small particulates is a wise choice.
What’s the CFM rating?
CFM stands for cubic feet per minute and is a measurement of the vacuum fans capability to move air. This gives you an indication of the models efficiency, speed and how much operating power it holds.
What’s the motor power?
Concerning vacuums, the motor power is perhaps the most important metric since it provides a relatively accurate indication of the vacuums suction power. The higher the number the better and they typically range between 1 and 4.
Portability & storability
Another crucial factor is choosing a new vacuum is both the portability and storability. Soot vacuums aren’t usually used as often as a normal vacuum so it helps if you can easily store it away. In addition, being able to easily move it around your property is also important, that’s why small soot vacuums are often lightweight and ideal for those with limited space.
Our recommended soot vacuum
The SootMaster Furnace Vacuum is, in our opinion, the best commercial grade soot vacuum available. This product is highly functional, powerful, and very durable with a 1 horsepower steel motor head. The cold rolled steel tanks have a hammermark exterior and epoxy interior featuring reinforcing ribs and chrome plated spring steel hold down clamps with non-marring tips ensure a positive vacuum seal. if you’re a professional or a homeowner who prefers to DIY, then this is the model you want.
Where to Buy Soot and Ash Vacuums?
You can find soot and ash vacuums at Home Depot, Walmart, and Ace Hardware. Check the models before you go as many of these retailers are now pushing more and more products to their online sites. If you prefer to shop though Amazon, we’d greatly appreciate your support if you clicked on one the links in the product review section before you purchase. The 3% commission earned helps support our site.
Soot and ash vacuums are not like regular vacuums, they are built to withstand and easily handle the debris resulting from combustion. The best units available offer fire-proof designs, typically made from metallic and other fire resistant materials.
When looking for a soot or ash vacuum, make sure you choose one that meets your exact requirements. If you intend on cleaning your ash and soot on a daily or regular basis, then you may want to think about a unit with a more substantial capacity.
About the Author
Dave Miller is a HVAC technician with over 10 years in the industry. Dave created HeatTalk with the ambition for it to become a resource for individuals looking for answers, whether they be a layman, student or a professional.