See the About.com review of the PowerSmith™ Ash Vacuum PAVC101 here.
If you have a wood heat stove, pellet stove or fireplace, you must clean out the ashes on a regular basis. While a metal bucket works for scooping the ashes in, a specially-designed vacuum allows you to do a more thorough cleaning of the wood-burning appliance and the area around it. Removing the ash helps keep (ash) odors and allergens down. The PowerSmith™ PAVC101 looks ideal for the task so we took it for a test drive.
PowerSmith™ Ash Vacuum Model PAVC101
Designed to clean warm and cool ash from: Fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, barbecue grills
Also can be used as a shop vacuum or blower
Washable, replaceable, fire-resistant 2-layer filter system
Heat-resistant rubber-coated metal hose and metal canister – stands high temperature; prevents fire hazards
A layer of micro filter catches the finest ash and dust
Powerful 10 Amp motor; noise level less than 79 db
Includes accessories – hose, filter, carpet/floor attachment, wheeled base, crevice tool,
2 extension tubes, metal nozzle Casters; 16 foot cord
5.2 Gallons; holds up to 3 gallons of ashes
Convenient on-board accessory storage; top carrying handle
Weight: 9 lb
2-Year limited warranty
Learn more from the manufacturer
Retails around $99
How the Ash Vacuum Performed
PowerSmith Ash Vacuum PAVC101
After using wood-burning appliances for several decades, we’ve gained an understanding (and respect) of how to safely use them, including how to clean the ash. We also know how easily clinkers can go unnoticed in a seemingly cool fire chamber. Hence the need to practice safe ash removal when it comes to
Though we have used a shop-type vacuum on occasion, a specially-designed heat-resistant vacuum like this PowerSmith™ is an essential and much safer cleaning tool, if you want to burn wood.
Out of the box, this Ash Vacuum required little set-up. Something you don’t see in the retailer pictures is the way this vacuum conveniently holds all its accessories on a compact, wheeled unit. With an overall size of five gallons, it’s easy to store, lightweight and with attachments and extensions, you can also use it for small DIY’s or as a garage or shop cleaning tool. Note that it is a dry-only vacuum and should never be used for vacuuming liquids or wet messes.
When cleaning ashes, it’s crucial to start with an assumed cooled stove or fireplace. We usually allow it to cool overnight. Though this vacuum has a heat-resistant construction – which is a precaution to reduce fire hazards, you should never vacuum hot or glowing embers with it. The Ash Vacuum should also be empty when you’re going to use it for cleaning out a woodstove and not contain previously vacuumed sawdust or other combustibles. And before undertaking this task, wearing safety glasses is strongly recommended.
Safety is paramount when it comes to ash removal. There are several good safety points in the manual that should be read. Unfortunately, the product manual was not included with this vacuum, but I strongly recommend that you download and read it before using the PowerSmith: PowerSmith Ash Vacuum Manual.
As for performance, this ash vacuum has a 10 amp motor which was plenty of power to vacuum ashes. Before we started vacuuming, we removed large chunks of burnt material to a waiting metal coal bucket. Using the metal nozzle, we vacuumed the fire chamber – that was very quick. Our heat stove has two metal ash pans below the fire chamber. We removed those and vacuumed the ash that lined that lower compartment. Cleaning in every nook and cranny of both areas took less than five minutes. We then attached the plastic floor attachment to clean around the wood storage box area.
Noticeable benefits of using the PowerSmith over a shop-style vacuum: Less noise – way less than the big shop vacuum. And the unit has a fairly good seal; we did not detect any ash dust being returned to the room during cleaning. This is especially important because of my allergies. When we removed the filter to check, there was no dust on the motor housing. The dust was contained in the filter. This was actually the cleanest
ash cleaning we’ve done.
Compared to a manual shoveling, the vacuum did a more thorough cleaning. That gave us a better look at the condition of the cast iron grates and fire brick, as well as remove more ash from the hard-to-reach corners. Note that some wood-burning stove manufacturers recommend leaving a one inch bed of ash on the grates. You may want to check your stove’s manual to confirm. We do this occasionally, but removing all the ash
keeps allergens down.
This ash vacuum comes with some nice plastic attachments so you can use this unit as a compact shop/garage vacuum. Note that plastic attachments should never be used inside the wood-burning stove – only the metal nozzle. The PowerSmith should be emptied before storing. Always dispose of ash in safe manner.
Overall Impression and Related Resources
The PowerSmith Ash Vacuum did a much safer and more thorough job of cleaning our wood-burning stove and removing ash. This unit is designed to reduce fire risk hazards and also has some nice convenience features like wheels and attachments so you can use it for other jobs. It can also be used to clean ash from your barbecue grill. It has enough capacity for the job, yet it’s compact and easy to store.
Tools are conveniently all stored onboard.
We highly recommend the PowerSmith if you have wood-burning appliances. It’s competitively priced and an affordable accessory if you want to burn wood for heat. This particular model did not come with a manual, but due to the importance, all PowerSmith Ash Vacuums should come with one. If missing, you should download it. It includes comprehensive safety-oriented instructions.