Ash vacuums are designed with two stage filtering to stop fly ash (extremely fine particles) being blown out into the home. If a normal household vacuum is used to suck up ash, you will find that your home interior gets covered with a fine layer of dust.The other important point is that the filters and bags of a household vacuum are made of flammable materials. The forced air used by a vacuum cleaner to pick up dust will cause any tiny spark to glow which can then ignite dust in the dust bag, or the filters.
A pellet stove vacuum has a flame retardant hose with a metal pick up tip. The ash is dumped into a non flammable metal canister.
Types of Ash Vacuums
There are two basic types of ash vacuums. The cheapest option is to go for one which uses your household vacuum to create the suction. The household vacuum is plugged into one side of the metal canister, which contains the ash filters. The ash vac hose used to clean the fireplace exits from the other side.
More expensive, (and more effective), are the models which have their own motor built in. These can also have systems for cleaning the filter while the vacuum is in use and without having to empty it.
Bad Ash Vacuums
Available in North America from ABCvacuumwarehouse, The Bad Ash adaptor is the type that runs from your domestic vacuum. It's designed for cold ashes only. The hose has an aluminium tip with a crevice tool. See the Amazon widget on the right.
Loveless Ash Vacs
These are the only true warm ash vacuums available. The filters are flame retardant so that if a spark accidentally gets sucked in, the only result will be a slight charring of the filter.
Loveless vacuums are designed to remove only the burnt ash, leaving larger embers behind to be consumed when the fire is re-started.
A tool package is available which includes a horsehair cleaning brush to remove ash from the viewing window and decorative logs, a pellet stove cleaning hose which is flexible and fits on the main hose end to get into nooks and crannies, and a crevice tool.
Both the Cougar and the Cheetah 11 have a filter cleaning mechanism to allow cleaning without emptying the stove. The Cheetah also has a spring loaded filter that self-cleans whenever the machine is stopped and re-started.
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