Shop-Vac Ash Vacuum [Full Review]

powersmith ash vacuumAbout the Authors: This article was written by Chris. This information is stated as personal opinion for our personal circumstances based on our online research and does not constitute advice, professional or otherwise, to you and your circumstances, or guarantee quality or fit for purpose of the following products. By visiting and using this website, you accept and agree to be bound by our Disclaimer along with our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy posted on the website. As an Amazon associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


Our Verdict: The Shop-Vac would likely be good enough to do most domestic jobs such as cleaning out fireplaces and pellet stoves. The short hose, short cord, and lack of wheel dolly dampen our enthusiasm.

Shop-Vac Ash Vacuum – Full Review

Shop-Vac is one of the top brands in the Ash Vacuum product category. This signature item, the domestic ash vacuum, allows you to vacuum up fine particles such as ash more effectively than your regular household vacuum.

Overall, we think the brand reputation is the biggest appealing factor of this vacuum. But when getting down to the nitty-gritty, we find other vacuums in this product category often match or beat the Shop-Vac vacuum’s specifications. We’ll walk you through each of our criteria below, with comparisons to other vacuums in this product category.

Portability

When considering a vacuum cleaner’s portability, we look at cord length and the wheel dolly. On both these metrics, the Shop Vac fell short of several key competitors.

The cord length of this vacuum is shorter than most. At 6 feet, you may find that this cord doesn’t reach your power outlet when working on a fireplace or outdoor fire pit. We don’t think this is a deal breaker necessarily – most people have an extension cord in their house. But it’s worth noting some competitors have cords up to 16 feet long.

The Shop Vac also doesn’t come with wheels. This is surprisingly not uncommon in this product category. However, several competitors do offer detachable wheel dollies to allow for added portability. The key reason, we think, that this item doesn’t have wheels is that most people aren’t moving around too much when cleaning out an individual appliance such as fireplace or grill. Nevertheless, we do like to have our vacuums on wheels.

For people wanting to have zero limits when it comes to portability, the best option would be to get a cordless model. There is only one cordless option we know of on the market today.

So, overall, we give the Shop-Vac ash vacuum below average marks for portability.

Suction & Ash Collection

All ash vacuums suffer from suction quality issues. This is because of the fine HEPA filters designed to catch fine ash particles, which clog filters fast. There’s really no way around it. The motor needs to work tirelessly to counteract the stifling effect the filters have on suction.

This vacuum cleaner’s 60 Hz 6.3A motor is somewhat weaker than several competitors, which could hamper efforts to sustain high suction power.

The solution for this is to clean filter – regularly. The less gunk that’s caught up in the filters, the better the suction will be (and the less likely it is for the motor to overheat).

Cannister Size

The Shop Vac’s 5 gallon cannister is a respectable size that stands up against competitors in the price point. With 5 gallons, you’re more than able to clean out a fireplace, grill or pellet stove. So for domestic use, this is more than enough.

Note that ash vacuums don’t have bags in their cannisters. Instead, the ash falls right into the metal cannister itself. Then, you can simply sprinkle the ash out into the garden (it’s great compost) or the trash. Of course, make sure the ash is cool before tipping it out (really, it should be cool before vacuuming too – more on that next!)

Accessories

This is one category where the Shop-Vac does outpace many competitors. It’s got a great 5 piece pellet stove micro cleaning kit. This kit has thin tubes and brushes that attach to the end of the hose to help get into the smallest nooks and crannies of a pellet stove.

There is also a crevice tool for getting into crevices in a fireplace grate, and a metal end attachment which is great for breaking up charcoal before sucking it up.

Overall, this Shop-Vac model has some of the best accessories of all domestic ash vacuum models.

Comparison with Major Competitors

Ash Vacuum

Size

Cord Length

Wheels

1. Shop-Vac 4041300 (This Model) 5 Gallons 6 Feet No
2. Bacoeng Advanced 5.3 Gallons 15 Feet Yes
3. Pellethead Pro 5 Gallons 12 Feet Yes
4. KIMO Cordless 3.5 Gallons Cordless Yes
5. PowerSmith PAVC101 All-In-One 5 Gallons 16 Feet Yes
6. Snow Joe ASHJ201 4.8 Gallons 5 Feet No
7. Vacmaster 6 Gallons 12 Feet No

Frequently Asked Questions

Can it Clean Ash from a Fireplace or Pellet Stove?

Yes. This vacuum cleaner is designed to vacuum up ash from fireplaces, pellet stoves, fire pits and barbecue grills. With its pellet stove accessory kit and crevice tool, it can get into tough to reach corners to clear out appliances, keeping them clean and safe. However, it’s important to ensure the ash has fully cooled and is cool to the touch before using the Shop Vac.

Can you Vacuum Warm Ash with the Shop Vac?

The idea that you can vacuum up warm ash is another common misconception people have. They buy the vacuum cleaner expecting to be able to vacuum up ash straight after putting out a fire. Okay, maybe we’re exaggerating. But it’s a little frustrating when people give negative reviews for misusing a product.

The reason you can’t vacuum warm ash is because it burns up the fragile HEPA filters – fast.

With that said, some vacuum cleaners designed for ash do promote that they can handle ash up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. So people dead set on not waiting til the ash cools might want to try one of those alternatives.

But … try to let the ash cool if you can.

How to Prevent Overheating?

All ash vacuums have the capacity to overheat, and many do regularly. There’s no escaping it. The key reason behind this is that the motor needs to work against the HEPA filter, which is very fine and acts as a lag on the motor.

The best thing you can do is clean the filter regularly. When there is less gunk clogging the filter, suction is enhanced. When we say regularly, we really mean it. Clean it after every single use. These filters are very fine, catch all the tiny little ash particles, and therefore clog fast.

The other thing you can do to prevent overheating is to only use the vacuum in short bursts. By cleaning out appliances regularly, each job will be shorter and put less strain on the motor.

How to Clean a HEPA Filter?

A HEPA filter is a special type of filter that catches very fine particles. It’s used in many industrial and commercial purposes, such as for filtering air in airplanes. In your vacuum, you’ll have a HEPA filter that needs regular cleaning. They’re fragile, so take care.

The best way to clean a HEPA filter is to use compressed air. A small air compressor can blow out the fine particles to renew the filter (make sure you do it outdoors). Another alternative is to use a soft dry paintbrush to delicately clean it out.

HEPA filters will eventually lose their effectiveness and need to be replaced.

Final Verdict

Overall, we think Shop-Vac 4041300 ash vacuum could be an effective domestic vacuum for cleaning ash out of appliances. It may be particularly useful for pellet stoves thanks in large part to the excellent 5 piece pellet stove cleaning kit. However, we do have hesitations in the category of portability – we think there are more portable alternatives, such as cordless models and models on wheels.

To get the Shop-Vac 4041300, check it out on Amazon.