REVIEW – When it’s cold, there’s nothing like a wood fire to take the chill off the air and cheer me up. I’ve recently bought a house with a wood-burning fireplace, and am really excited to have one again, except for the irritation and mess of having to deal with the ashes. When this Yibintc Ash Vacuum came up for review, I was excited to get the chance to try it out. A rainy late January cold snap provided the perfect opportunity to give it a go!
What is it?
The Yibintc Ash Vacuum is a traditional shop vac with a fire-resistant fine mesh filter inside.
What’s in the box?
- Metal bucket with hose receptor riveted in
- Motor lid with inputs for blowing or vacuuming
- Corrugated flexible hose
- Brush attachment
- Angled concentrator with a flip-down detail brush
- Metal handle extension
- Fine-mesh fire-resistant filter insert
- Three removable casters for bucket
- Three-part extension for hose
Design and features
A shop vac is a fairly familiar item in many US homes. Especially if you’re someone who does messy things like woodworking, stained glass, or general home repairs that may involve more than moderate mess-making, you’ve either gotten one or your regular vacuum has wished you had. The traditional design is a (usually) metal 5-ish gallon bucket with a two-way motor mounted in the lid. Some handle liquids as well as solids. Most handle fairly fine particles, like sawdust or plaster dust from sanding drywall mud, etc. This one from Yibintc includes a fold-up handle that allows you to carry the entire unit, hose and all, with one hand.
The Yibintc Ash Vacuum riffs on a few of these standard setup items. The lid clamps on as usual, and the motor is mounted in it, but the hose attaches directly to the bucket. Inside the attachment point, there is a plastic diverter to point the incoming waste materials downwards into the bucket, rather than just straight in. This fitting is secured with three pop rivets.
In addition to the usual round sponge-type filter that surrounds the air intake part of the motor, there is a second metal-ringed fire-resistant removable filter insert. The inside filter can be removed and cleaned easily, or the vacuum can be used without it.
The casters that allow the Yibintc Ash Vacuum to be pulled around while in use are easily attached as part of the setup, but they can also be removed if need be. I found them very free-floating when used as a regular vacuum, but not difficult when sitting in one place cleaning ashes from the fireplace. The unit is very stable, even though it is light and, when empty, top-heavy.
Other than attaching the casters and inserting the hose, cover, and filter, there isn’t much setup required for the Yibintc Ash Vacuum. The three extensions are identical and tapered, so their friction fit is not difficult to achieve, but since there’s no “this-end-up” indication of which way they are aligned, it takes a minute if one’s turned around.
The Yibintc Ash Vacuum is loud (especially in my empty house!), but that is true of most shop vacs. I had an electrician wandering around making notes for a quotation, so I just popped in some sponge earplugs, and it was tolerable.
The hose extension pieces have kinda iffy connections. I didn’t have any issues with them actually coming apart during use, but they are not tight, and once I used the vac on actual ashes, they started to leak slightly. I’d like to see something tighter, or with a gasket in place to prevent leakage. Not sure that’s possible at this price point, but having to wipe down the tube after use is irritating. Between the fine powder of ash and the static generated by that powder flying up the tube, the joints have a coating of soot after use.
The suction was OK, but the crevice tool concentrator improved it a good bit.
I burned a few logs and allowed them to sit overnight in order to cool fully. (This proved interesting for an air filter system that I’m also testing. I’ve called a chimney sweep to check out the issue before my next fire!) The ash vacuum made short work of the ashes and allowed me to carry them directly to the outside trash can without having to worry that they would spill. I made a time-lapse video, but it ended up being only a few seconds long. I thought it would be longer!
What I like
- Tightly manufactured (except for extension tube pieces)
- The fine filter is very effective – and washable
What I’d change
- Better joints on extension tubes
Wood-burning fireplaces, for all their romance, are always cold and dirty the next day. Even when we had one in a previous house that we kept going literally all winter, at some point, we had to let it go out and shovel out the ashes. While the Yibintc Ash Vacuum makes shorter work of clearing out the residue, and the ash filter keeps it out of the motor and the main filter, the leakage through the extension tube casts a pall over the whole affair. I will try with some extra sealing (probably start with duct tape and move on from there. Maybe a bit of spongy weather seal?) once I get my chimney/flue checked out. Watch this space for future updates. Meanwhile, it’s better than shoveling, but not as clean as not having a fire.