How to Clean Ash Out of Pellet Stoves In 8 Easy Steps

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Keeping your pellet stove free from ash is essential for many reasons: better efficiency, less harmful emissions, and reduced fire hazards are just among them. With this in mind, you need to know how to clean ash out of the pellet stove.

A pellet stove.

This post details the steps required to clean the pellet stove. We also recommend how often it should be maintained, the consequences of not cleaning it regularly, and when to seek professional help. 


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How to Clean Ash Out of Pellet Stoves Step-By-Step Guide

Tools and Equipment Needed

Here is a list of essential items you need for cleaning your pellet stove:

Tools for cleaning a pellet stove.
  • Ash vacuum cleaner: Ash particles can be very fine and damaging to regular vacuums. You’ll need an ash vacuum cleaner specially designed to safely suck up cold ash without blowing fine particles back into the air.
  • A soft brush or paint brush: This is used for gently removing ash without scratching surfaces. 
  • Metal scraper: A metal scraper removes hardened ash deposits from the burn pot and other areas. Use it with caution to avoid damaging the stove.
  • Microfiber cloth: This is useful for wiping down ash from the stove’s exterior and other non-porous surfaces.
  • Gloves: Get a durable pair to protect your hands from ash and the sharp edges inside the stove.
  • Dust mask/respirator: The mask is for protecting your lungs from fine ash particles. This is very important, especially if you’re sensitive to dust.
  • Protective eyewear: Also protect your eyes from ash and debris with goggles or something similar.
  • Drop cloth or newspaper: This will be laid around the stove to catch spills and make cleanup easier.
  • Flashlight: Use a flashlight to see inside the stove clearly, making sure you don’t miss any spots.
  • Screwdriver or wrench: Have a screwdriver or wrench nearby, as some parts need to be disassembled for thorough cleaning.
  • Bucket with lid: If you can’t dispose of ash immediately, this is where you’ll temporarily store it. Make sure it’s metal, as the ash might still be warm.
  • Pellet stove cleaning kit: Check the stove’s manufacturer to see if they offer cleaning kits specifically designed for your pellet stove. These kits come with brushes and scrapers that fit the stove’s various parts, such as the burn pot, heat exchanger, and venting system.

Before you begin cleaning, make sure the stove is completely turned off and cool.

Step 1. Empty the ash pan

Carefully remove the ash pan from the stove and dispose of the ashes in the metal bucket. Make sure the ash is completely cold before disposing of it. 

Step 2. Clean the burn pot

Open the stove and locate the burn pot. Use the metal scraper to remove any ash, clinkers, or unburned pellets from the pot. Be careful not to damage it. Use the ash vacuum to remove any leftover debris.

Step 3. Vacuum the interior

Use a soft brush to loosen any ash on the interior surfaces of the stove. Vacuum the inside of the stove, including the area around the burn pot, making sure to reach all corners and crevices.

Step 4. Clean the heat exchanger

Locate the heat exchanger. If the stove comes with a cleaning rod for the heat exchanger, use it to scrape away any soot or ash. Vacuum away any debris that falls into the stove during cleaning. 

Step 5. Inspect and clean the venting system

Check the venting system for blockages or buildup. If it’s accessible, clean inside the vent pipe using a long-handled brush. If the venting system is complex or hard to reach, it’s better to get professionals to do it.

Step 6: Clean the fans and motors

Locate the fans and motors and carefully vacuum around these parts to remove dust. Be careful not to touch the motor’s electrical components directly.

Step 7: Wipe down the stove

Clean the stove’s exterior using a damp cloth. Wipe down the glass door as well, removing any dust or ash.

Step 8: Assemble and test

Once you’ve finished cleaning everything, reassemble any parts you removed or open. Test the stove by turning it on and observing it for a few minutes. Everything should work correctly.

What Happens If You Don’t Clean A Pellet Stove?

A dirty Pellet stove

Neglecting your pellet stove can lead to a host of problems that affect its efficiency, safety, and longevity. When you fail to clean it regularly, these are some of the problems you might encounter:

  • Poor efficiency: Ash and soot buildup impede heat transfer to the room, with the stove burning more fuel just to create the same level of heat. Because of the ash buildup, you might also have a hard time lighting and maintaining a fire. All this results in an inefficient stove. 
  • Higher emissions: Dirty stoves do not burn fuel completely, which means they produce more particulates and other pollutants.
  • Unsafe operation: Ash and unburned pellet residue are fire hazards since they are combustible materials. They also obstruct the flow of exhaust gasses, leading to poor combustion and potentially dangerous situations, such as carbon monoxide buildup inside your home. 
  • Malfunctions and higher maintenance costs: Ash buildup can interrupt the stove’s mechanical and electronic components, leading to more operational failures. It can be difficult to diagnose pellet stove problems on your own, so you can end up with costly maintenance fees. 
  • Shorter lifespan: A well-made and maintained pellet stove can last you between 15 and 20 years. But if it’s not cleaned regularly, you accelerate the wear and tear on its components, resulting in a shorter lifespan.


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How Often Should a Pellet Stove Be Cleaned?

Pellet stove cleaning frequency depends on how often you use it and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Here are some general guidelines for you to follow:

  • For Heavy Use, Clean Daily: If your stove has an ash pan, it should be cleaned after each use. You should also check the burn pot and remove any clinkers or ash buildup that could affect airflow and combustion.
  • For Regular Use, Clean Once A Week: Check the burn pot, ash pan, and stove interior, making sure to remove ash. Also, clean the glass door and wipe away soot with a soft cloth. 
  • For Every 1 To 2 Tons Of Pellets Burned, Clean Once A Month: Every month, check the exhaust pathways and vent pipe and clean away ash and soot buildup. Use a vacuum to clean around the fans and motors. Many stoves have a lever or rod that allows you to clean the heat exchanger tubes. Also, check the pellet hopper for sawdust or debris buildup. 
  • Always Clean At Least Once A Year: Your pellet stove should be inspected and cleaned by a professional at least once a year before the heating season. A certified technician will thoroughly check your stove, making sure all components are sturdy and working properly. If necessary, they may replace and repair certain components so your stove works efficiently.

Other Pellet Stove Maintenance Tips

Here are some general maintenance tips to keep your pellet stove in top condition.

1. Read the manual
Read the user manual for your specific stove model. This will have maintenance recommendations and safety information specific to your stove.

2. Regular cleaning
As mentioned above, cleaning the stove should be part of your maintenance to remove ash and unburned pellets. How often you clean depends on how much you use the stove. A good rule of thumb is to clean the burn pot, ash traps, and glass door at least once a week during heavy use. The ash pan should be emptied every few days to prevent overflow and maintain airflow for combustion.

3. Check and replace gaskets
Regularly inspect the door and ash pan gaskets to ensure they’re creating a tight seal. Replace them as soon as you notice they’re worn out to keep smoke and emissions contained.

4. Use high-quality pellets
Using high-quality pellets can reduce the amount of ash produced and ensure that your stove operates efficiently. Poor-quality pellets contain bark and fillers, which are likely to lead to more clinkers and a dirty burn pot.

5. Check and lubricate fans and motors
Some stoves and fans have motors that require occasional lubrication. Check your manual for guidance on these components.

6. Keep the hopper clean

A pellet stove hopper.

Make sure the hopper is clean and free from dust or debris, which can interfere with the pellet feed.

7. Update the pellet stove software
For more technologically advanced stoves, you want to make sure its software is up-to-date.

8. Schedule Annual professional inspection
Even if you regularly maintain your stove, it’s highly recommended that you get it inspected by a professional once a year. They will check the stove’s venting system, electrical components, motor, and other parts that might be harder for you to assess. 

When to Seek Professional Help

Getting professional help with your pellet stove is advisable in the following situations:

  • It’s time for annual maintenance.
  • You notice a decline in your stove’s performance, such as less heat, more smoke, or strange noises. This could indicate a blockage or malfunctioning components.
  • You notice issues with venting, such as blockages, leaks, or corrosion. 
  • The pellet stove stops working or shows error codes indicating a malfunction.
  • You just moved into a new home with an existing pellet stove.
  • You don’t feel confident disassembling parts of your stove to clean it. 
  • You own a high-end or complex pellet stove that requires specialized knowledge. 

Expect to pay between $100 and $250 for a basic cleaning and inspection. The cost can go up to $200 to $300 for cleaning extensive ash buildup, cleaning hard-to-reach components, or servicing parts that require disassembly. 

The venting system is a separate component that needs cleaning as well. Depending on its length, the cost can be from $100 to $200. Parts like motors, control boards, and augers are expensive to replace, and labor costs for repairing them will definitely add to the bill.

When hiring a service, be sure to ask what is included in their cleaning and inspection package. 


You just learned how to clean ash out of your pellet stove and the instances where it’s going to require a professional. You’re also aware of the consequences of not cleaning the pellet stove regularly. 

By cleaning and maintaining your pellet stove, you avoid costly repairs and enjoy a safe, high-performing appliance that will last for many years.

What’s your experience with cleaning ash out of your pellet stove? What happened when you didn’t clean it, and how much did you have to pay for repairs? 

By sharing your story, we hope to encourage other homeowners to get their stoves regularly checked and cleaned.

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Thomas Green

Thomas has worked in the Chimney & Fireplace field for over 12 years. He is an expert in his trade and loves to help People with their needs. Thomas Write helpful articles so that homeowners can make the most informed decisions about their fireplace and chimney.