The cold and blustery days of autumn are upon us and soon it will be time for cozying up around a warm fire with your family. Nothing beats the feeling of warmth and ambiance that a fireplace provides. Starting a fire in your wood burning fireplace may seem simple, but it actually takes a lot of steps and some skill to start a wood fire.
Whether you are using your fireplace, or building a fire to enjoy outdoors, we here at Northeastern Masonry & Chimney want to share with you how to build a perfect fire so you can enjoy your fireplace all winter, which is why we offer you these fire starting tips.
Before starting any fire think about safety first. First, look at the area surrounding your fireplace. Are there any combustible items (like wood and cloth furniture) within a minimum of three feet away from your fireplace, it needs to be moved. Also, check to see if your chimney is blocked.
Be sure there is an open airway out of your chimney. Nest, old leaves, and creosote can cause blockages which can be fire and smoke hazards. The best way to be sure your chimney is clear is to have it checked out by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney technician like the ones at Northeastern Masonry & Chimney.
Pick the Right Wood
Before you start your fire, be sure to choose the right kind of wood. You want to be sure to use the right fuel for your fire. Your wood should be properly seasoned to assure an effective, clean burning fire. Seasoned firewood is wood that has been split, stacked, and set out to dry. Non-seasoned wood has high moisture making it had to start on fire. You will want to pick wood that has been properly split and dried (or seasoned) to avoid too much smoke and creosote buildup. Check out our previous blog for wood selection tips.
Open Your Damper and Prime the Flue
It is very important that you open your damper before you start your fire. If your damper is closed, the smoke produced by your fire will have no place to go but into your home. Once your damper is open you may start to feel cold air coming from your flue. This cold air sink will cause smoke to come into your house until your flue warms up. You can avoid this by priming your flue. This is done by lighting a roll of newspaper and holding it up in your flue until you feel the draft reverse.
Build Your Fire
It is usually best to build your fire on an ash bed. A 1 – 2-inch ash bed provides insulation to keep your fire burning hotter. If you do not have an ash bed, you can use ashes from an outdoor grill or firepit. However, too much ash can cause fires to burn poorly, so don’t allow more than a couple inches of ash to build up.
There are a couple techniques that can be used to build your fire, but the most common technique consists of starting with a small bunch of kindling such as paper, leaves, or something easily combustible and building the fire up. On top of your kindling, you will want to lay small dry sticks that can easily catch fire. Next lay a layer of medium-sized logs/sticks on top of your kindling. Start your fire by lighting the kindling with a long match or lighter. Once your medium-sized logs/sticks have caught fire, you can start to lay larger logs on your fire.
If you have any questions on the proper way to start a fire, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Northeastern Masonry & Fireplace today to and ask our fireplace experts how to build a fire for your whole family to enjoy.