I never used this trap door. Presumably, it's to dispose of ash on a regular basis. Is there any particular reason that using this is a bad idea? There's a door/ access panel in the basement to clean out the accumulated ash, which makes me wonder what the benefit is of using this. I can just fill a bucket and carry ash away every fer fires.

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  • let's see ... someone forgets to close the panel downstairs ... they also leave some flammable material laying near the panel .... you can fill in the rest of the story
    – jsotola
    Nov 24 '20 at 1:08
  • Well, I'd be sure the ash I dropped was cool to the touch. I've been taking it out by hand, in a bucket, a few days after prior fire. But, your point is well taken. It adds a layer of risk to my life. Better to avoid it. Nov 24 '20 at 1:12
  • 1
    that is actually the only risk that I can think of ... i don't know if smoldering ashes produce much CO, but you could simply install a carbon monoxide detector
    – jsotola
    Nov 24 '20 at 1:18
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    To keep a fire going all winter one would use the hatch throughout the day. It's not just quicker to sweep into a low spot than shovel out of the front, it keeps dust out of your living area. I've not seen one that's not pre-filled with ash, so if yours isn't, you get to ride that sucker into the ground before the next folks take over.
    – dandavis
    Nov 24 '20 at 5:10

The benefit is that (with the door below closed as per normal practice) you don't need to wait for anything to cool (it's going into a nice masonry chamber, nothing to burn) and you don't need to carry ash through the house. You dump the ash (hot or cold) down the hole all winter, and when spring comes you shovel it out from the basement and go spread it on your garden (unless you are in an alkali soil area. In acidic soil areas wood ash is quite beneficial to gardens.)

@jstola's nightmare scenario is frankly a bit far-fetched. Those cast iron doors don't just fall open by themselves, and any smoldering combustion byproducts would be filtering up by the trapdoor, into the chimney, and out of the house.


I use my fireplace heavily in Minnesota's winter, and it doesn't have a trapdoor. I do exactly what you describe, scooping out the ash every couple weeks before lighting a fire. No harm will come to you or any furry animals if you don't use the receptacle.

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