I bought and moved into a house six weeks ago. There was some semi-built-in furniture which came with the house, but it was gross, so I had it removed recently... Which leads me to this. There's an iron door which opens to the interior of the cinder block wall. No obvious purpose, no visible pipes or valves or anything. What might this be?enter image description hereenter image description here]![enter image description here

1 Answer 1


Fireplace ash cleanout.

In the back center of the fireplace, there will be an ash drop opening.

The popularity of these date to when the fireplace was used 24 hours a day. You could safely drop ashes with hot coals, and later remove the cold ash.

  • The owner immediately before me installed a wood burning oven insert. Is it likely that it is no longer functional as an ash drop?
    – J K
    Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 22:49
  • You’d have to look and see, I’ve seen inserts that would both close it off with a sealed steel bottom and those that would leave it exposed. I suspect it’s non-functional. Even if there is an opening you don’t have to use it. Typically the opening is covered with a metal door that flips oven (using a fireplace tool) for use.
    – Tyson
    Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 22:56
  • It was a much easier way to clean out the fireplace when burning wood or coal. Just flip up the inside door up with a poker and push everything under the grate in and close once the box was full a standard fireplace shovel was just the right size to clean it out. +
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 23:01
  • When I had my fireplace professionally serviced & cleaned they explicitly instructed me to not use the ash cleanout, I think because the falling ash will stir up lots of dust.
    – DaveD
    Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 23:12
  • 1
    @Makyen WOW. Thank you. I did mention being safe, but I guess I wasn’t as safe as you are. Fire needs 3 things to burn: fuel, heat, and oxygen. Personally I never had anything but cold ash after being sealed in a popcorn tin outdoors for multiple days. Sorry I didn’t suggest making a complete mess that is hard to dispose of!
    – Tyson
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 1:03

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