So my RMH is three years old and has had minimal issues in the past. This year it began waning in its rockety powery goodness around the new year. I thought maybe I needed to do a rebuild as I did not properly insulate under the burn chamber and am no doubt losing a massive amount of my heat to my earthen floor, so I decide to pull the beast apart with the intention of rebuilding the base.
When I pulled the barrel off though, I was surprised to see the monumental amount of ash accumulated within: see photos.
I haven't ever removed the barrel and was not lucky enough to put a removable top on mine. I do clean out the cleanouts every year and also run a high powered shop vac to blow out any fly ash in the system. Apparently it was not enough to get to this 5-6 gallons of ash.
Do others remove their barrels regularly to clean inside? I think the culprit is the hardware cloth around the heat riser that I used to hold in my clay perlite. Anyone coating theirs with a slip or refractory cement?
Here is my stove after about 3 months of burning every day. As you can see, there is a lot of ash accumulation out of reach from the cleanout port which is why I normally lift my barrel and clean it about twice a season. It also gives me a peek 'under the hood' to inspect the riser and repair any cracks or other weakening points if needed. Of course ash accumulation varies with what type of wood your burning, if you burn any paper products and of course operator/stove personalities....The only place I can think of that a small amount of ash accumulation is beneficial in this area would be to help form a seal where the bottom of the barrel rests on the cob/brick support.
It seems logical that the more smooth you make all of the 'innards' of your stove the less surface area for the ash to catch on and accumulate. On mine, I surrounded my heat riser with sheet metal which stands up quite well and easy to clean.