If you’re new to using a fireplace, these basics of starting a fire in your fireplace from Chimney Sweeps of America can come in handy. Even if you’re a natural when it comes to outdoor fires, the technique is different when you’re working with an indoor fireplace.
Clean the chimney
After a long summer break, and before using a fireplace, you should at least check the chimney to ensure nothing is blocking it. Animals in chimneys love to build nests and homes, even leaves can build up in there and cause blockages.
Calling a professional to clean your chimney is always a great idea!
Open up the damper
When it comes to the basics of starting a fire in your fireplace, this is the step that people often forget. The damper is there to prevent cold air from entering your home by way of the chimney when the fireplace is not in use. It also regulates the draft when in use. If you don’t open it up while you are lighting the fire, your house will fill with smoke.
Ready the flue
This is especially important if your chimney is built on the exterior of your home, as the flue will most certainly be cold. Cold air sinks, right? So, logically, when you open the damper, all the cold air sitting in your chimney will sink down and start seeping into the home. If you light a fire while this is happening the smoke will blow back into your home.
To combat this issue, simply light a long match and hold it up to the opening of the damper for several minutes until you feel the draft switch directions. When you do, that means that the flue is ready to get to work.
Maintain a bed of ash
Overzealous fireplace owners may thoroughly clean out ash in their fireplace, but this isn’t the best approach. About 1-2 inches of ash will help insulate the fire and even promote burning hotter. If your fireplace is barren because you’ve never built a fire in it, a good tip is to use the ashes from an outdoor grill.
However, there can be too much of a good thing. Too much ash will smother your fire and make it hard to start. So don’t take this tip as an excuse never to clean your fireplace.
Use the “upside down” technique
There is a myriad of methods for fire building. Each technique has its merits. If you’re looking for hours of clean burning in your fireplace, the upside down technique might be right for you.
It gets its name from the fact that it is literally upside down from the traditional fire. Instead of piling tinder, kindling and big logs in that order, do the reverse. Largest logs at the bottom, then smaller logs, with layers of tinder, kindling and crumpled paper on top. When the smoke doesn’t have to pass through all the cold logs to escape, the fire will naturally burn cleaner.
We hope these basics of starting a fire in your fireplace come in handy this season. As always, the experts at Chimney Sweeps of America are here to help with expert fireplace installation and repair. Have a wood stove? We repair and install those, too.