I wasn't going to write about this after I actually did it. I'm trying to think now about the advantages to doing this. At the time I got the idea of using my Shop Vac to do this I realized I had a new one I bought to clean up a house we sold in Santa Barbara last year that has a special filter on it so I could use that one to vacuum up the soot that is left over when a fire is over.
What are the advantages to doing this? They aren't what I thought they would be.
Because all the time I saved in vacuuming up with the shop vac I lost in cleaning out the shop vac out by the trash cans. So, now I have some soot on my recycle bin that I tried to wash off with a hose but it didn't take all of it off.
However, if you are ONLY vacuuming out your fireplace (several days after the last fire for safety to prevent fires) it would be a very quick and relatively painless way to do this part. So, if people are coming and you don't have much time this could work (if you have a paper filter inside your shop vac) so you don't blow soot all over your living room or wherever your fireplace is when you start vacuuming.
So, it is a great way to do this in quick amounts of time for emergncies like people coming within an hour or so when you still need to take a shower and get ready.
What I did:
I took my Shop Vac and put the smallest end on the hose that is only 1/2 inch wide (the one that might work for furniture or small corners so it is about 1/2 inch opening one way and about an inch opening the other way. (This keeps the really big charcoal chunks from plugging up your hose on the way into the shop vac).
Then as the bigger chunks get caught I just pulled them off the end one by one and put them out of the way for shoveling up later on the side of the fireplace. If people are coming soon you can always just stick the Shop Vac back into the garage out of sight to clean it out later. I always use a face mask whenever I clean out the fireplace so I don't give myself lung problems and coughing because soot is so fine when it gets into the air it can cause you to choke.
When you clean up your shop vac:
When I took it outside to clean it up I still left my mask on and put a garbage bag over the top after I removed the electrical vacuum part from the circular bucket underneath. Then I put the open garbage bag over the top and poured the contents in. (This part I found sort of straightforward). However, then I found getting the last little remains from the bucket and then from the filter inside the electrical part of the vacuum more difficult and messy. But 95% of the removal of the soot and ashes and charcoal chunks was pretty easy. It was just the final cleaning of the bucket and filter that was really a pain and very time consuming and got dust all around the area of my trash cans and recycle bins etc.
So, is this a good thing to do? Likely it would be best for an emergency or if your wife wants it cleaned up really fast. However, clean up is sort of a pain afterwards so be ready for that.
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