Why Not To Use a Household Vacuum to Clean the Fireplace

If your home has a fireplace, you know that there’s certain maintenance that’s required to keep your fireplace and chimney in good condition. In addition to having a chimney sweep regularly clean your chimney, you need to make sure you’re regularly cleaning out the firebox. Many homeowners are tempted to use a regular vacuum for this job, but there are a few reasons this is a bad idea. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t use a regular vacuum, as well as some tips on cleaning from the experts in chimney repair in Atlanta.

Why Firebox Cleaning Matters 

Although cleaning out the firebox or chamber may seem like a tedious task, it’s important in order for wood to burn efficiently. Keeping the firebox free of ash helps improve air intake so that the wood will burn more cleanly. In addition, a clean firebox can reduce odors and allergens from smoke and burning wood fibers that some people can be especially sensitive to. Proper firebox cleaning requires removing all the ash with a shovel, vacuuming the rest of the ash, and then cleaning with soapy water. It’s important to use a vacuum specifically designed for ash rather than a household or shop vacuum for a few reasons.


Safety is one of the biggest reasons you should avoid using a regular vacuum for ash. Even if you’re fairly certain that there are no hot ashes in the firebox, it’s very common for hidden ashes to remain hot, which causes a problem when you vacuum them up with a regular vacuum. You should always wait 24 hours to clean the firebox, but it can take days for ashes to cool completely. Regular vacuums aren’t designed to handle heat. Most vacuums contain mainly plastic components that will melt and increase the chances of fire. In addition, there are usually combustible products like paper, dust, and hair in a regular vacuum that can instantly light when they come in contact with hot ash. Ash vacuums have metal components like nozzles, housing, and canisters that make it nearly impossible for hot ash to start a fire.

Vacuum Damage 

In addition to the fire damage posed by a normal vacuum when cleaning ashes, you risk damaging your vacuum, often beyond repair. The heat alone can quickly destroy the components of your vacuum, but there’s the ash to think about as well. A regular vacuum isn’t designed to filter out the tiny ash particles. That means these particles go into the vacuum’s motor, causing it to wear out prematurely.

Special Filter 

An ash vacuum is designed to filter out these small ash particles. This is important because it keeps the ash from going back into your home through the exhaust. Ash dust can be dangerous when breathed in, so it’s best to use a vacuum designed to handle and trap the dust.


Household and shop vacuums can be difficult to maneuver when cleaning out the firebox. Ash vacuums are small and easy to use in these small spaces, so the cleaning process will be much easier than when you use a different type of vacuum.

Other Maintenance Tips 

In addition to regularly cleaning your firebox, be sure to get regular Atlanta chimney cleaning by a professional. This cleaning includes an inspection so that you’re aware of any potential problems and can avoid chimney fires and other dangers that may result from a poorly maintained chimney. To schedule your next cleaning, contact Atlanta Chimney Doctor today.