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ash pit- anyonr have one?

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ash pit- anyonr have one?

Postby cadrad » Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:13 pm

My recently uncovered and repaired fireplace has a thin steel plate covering a hole that drops down to the basement ( I think) where there is a clean out door that is painted shut. should I open the door? When I have a fire, do, I just pull the plate and let the ash drop and clean the ash fro down in the basement. I have no experience with this. my parents house has a wood burnig fireplace, but you just sweep out the ashes in place.
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Re: ash pit- anyonr have one?

Postby SkipW » Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:03 pm

We had that setup in a house I grew up in...but we were always afraid to use it!

The house was built in the 20's I think and we bought in '64 so it had held up to the test of time but my father never trusted the idea of potentially shoving hot coals into a hole that he did not know everything about, even tho it had ashes in the bottom clean out when we bought the house....

I suppose you could have a chimney sweep come to look at the system and sign off (now why didn't WE do that?)
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Re: ash pit- anyonr have one?

Postby Danno » Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:06 pm

Get it open and peer inside just to confirm it's not full of pirate's gold, baby kittens, or some flammable substance. Then proceed as you suggested. If it doesn't appear to be safe to brush glowing embers down it, then you can just shovel out like your parents did.
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Re: ash pit- anyonr have one?

Postby lisascenic » Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:42 pm

Those baby kittens are eeeeeeeeevil!
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Re: ash pit- anyonr have one?

Postby cadrad » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:08 am

Thanks for all of the responses! Wow- I must have been tired last night! I am surprised I let that slip by with so many typos- sorry about that. I figured I would let the ash cool off before I swept it down the hole- could you do it hot? someone told me you were supposed to leave the metal plate off all togeter and just let the ash fsall, but that seems like a bad idea too-
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muskegon MI
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Re: ash pit- anyonr have one?

Postby Danno » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:27 am

The ash pit needs to be built and maintained in a way that it's just about as safe as the chimney. You should be able to scoop a flaming log down in there if you want. You have to be careful of ashes, there are many reports of ash buckets getting dumped after sitting for several days and then starting fires from glowing coals within.
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Re: ash pit- anyonr have one?

Postby JRC » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:45 pm

I never thought about it before, (and have never had my own fireplace, anyway) but I would assume that you only open the door when you want to clean out the firebox, by sweeping the ashes into the pit. I imagine that shoveling ashes directly from the firebox might be dirty. You'd be less likely to introduce soot and grime to a finished space from a cleanout door in the basement.

--edit to add--

I would see what's in the ash pit before I dumped potentially hot coals in it. When I was a kid, I knew someone who found an almost perfectly preserved newspaper from the 1880's. (the outside was charred, but that sealed and protected the rest of the rolled up paper.)
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Re: ash pit- anyonr have one?

Postby triguy128 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:00 pm

My firepalce has one. 2 small pivoting doors in hte floor on the back of the fireplace. Our fireplace however is not longer functional and would need ot be relined. Also the Hot Water heater is vented into the chimney and previously the boiler was also vented in there (with a huge 10" pipe!) before it was removed. In hte basement there are 2 cast iron doors that you can open and clean out ashes. Last I checked thre were some askes and/or brick mortor still in there.

The Ash pit is basically the bottom of the chmney. So if anything is flammable that gets swept down there, it could ignite and burn or smolder in there safely. I think it's Its' also where water will end up when it rains if you have an open chimney. As mentioned it's better the clean out ashes from a basement than carry them through a finished part of the house.
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Re: ash pit- anyonr have one?

Postby artfox » Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:49 pm

Like many other 1930's bungalows here, my house is brick veneer on a pier-and-beam foundation. The chimney has a cast iron door set into the brick on the outside -- it's about 4" above the concrete foundation beam. I'm guessing this is an ash pit, but I haven't explored the fireplace interior sufficiently to know if there is a metal door. According to longtime neighbors, the fireplace was never used because it smoked up the house. The chimney currently has a metal cap on top, plus some kind of insulating material stuffed up into it above the fireplace opening. When time and circumstances allow, I'll call a chimney specialist to come over and take a look.

Some folks in my neighborhood actually do have working fireplaces in their old homes -- when nighttime temps drop into the 40's, there's the scent of hardwood smoke in the air. Local grocery stores sell bundles containing 3 pieces of split oak firewood for 5 bucks.
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Re: ash pit- anyonr have one?

Postby triguy128 » Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:23 pm

artfox wrote:Local grocery stores sell bundles containing 3 pieces of split oak firewood for 5 bucks.


That could get expensive as as a heating source. Naturla gas is what $1.25/therm which is 100,000BTU's. What will that wood last, 8 hours. So figure 30,000 BTU's net output or 240,000 BTU's for 8 hours. So roughly 2X the cost to operate.

Something to consider Obivosuly you can get wood cheaper, expecially if you own acreage with timber or can source it pretty cheap locally in larger quantities.

I may install a wood firepalce some day just to have a nice cozy fire in the living room on a cold weekend morning. It would be direct vent. Natural draft firepalces can actually draw out so much air that their efficiency number are actually negative. I've seen -10 - 10% estimated.
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