This one sounds simple in theory, but trust me, once you learn how to build a fire the proper way, you’ll regret the time you spent trying to figure it out on your own. While there are a hundred different ways to build a fire, starting a safe and efficient fire takes practice and a little bit of knowledge. In the end, learning about how your fireplace works will save you countless service calls to your local chimney sweep and save you money.
Below I have compiled a list of links to both an article on the type of wood you should be using, and videos that take you step by step through the fire building process.
o “Types of Firewood – Softwood Vs. Hardwood” by Love The Outdoors
This article does a great job of explaining the different energy outputs of softwoods and hardwoods
• YouTube Videos – Please watch in the order in which they appear.
o “How to Build a Fire in a Fireplace: Fireplace Safety Tips” –by expertvillage.
Additional Tips the Videos May Not Cover
Make Sure the Damper is Open Before the Fire is Started
This is always my first step before placing a single log into my fireplace and has become a bit of a habit. Trust me, the last thing that you want to do is start a fire and realize that you never opened the damper.
We’ve received many calls over the years from distressed customers who have had smoke pour back into their homes and cause hundreds of dollars’ worth of damage to their property. This brings me to my next piece of advice.
Have a Fire Extinguisher in an Easily Accessible Place
If you forgot to open the damper and find the room is filling up with smoke, the fire has gotten out of hand, or a piece of wood rolls out of the fireplace, having a fire extinguisher on hand will save you from potentially devastating damage and danger.
You can purchase a fire extinguisher from almost any store, such as Meijer or your local Walmart. I bought a two pack from Home Depot for $29.88 plus tax.
Prep Your Flue: Establish a Draft
Once you have opened the damper, take a piece of kindling or rolled up newspaper and light it. By holding the lit end of the paper or kindling near the damper opening, you are reversing the airflow: Instead of cold up coming down your chimney, the hot air will start to rise and warm up your flue tiles, preventing them from being damaged by thermal shock.
Build the Fire Towards the Rear of the Firebox, Not Towards the Front
Building the fire towards the rear of the firebox ensures that the smoke will travel upwards and through the damper instead of out of the front of the firebox. Building the fire too close to the front of the firebox could lead to smoke damage to the front of your fireplace and staining of the mantle.
And There You Have It!
A few simple steps to ensure that this wood burning season is as stress-free as possible. If you would like to learn more about your wood burning fireplace, please visit http://csia.org where you can find an incredibly detailed wealth of knowledge.
If you would like to schedule an inspection or sweep and live in our service area, please give our office a call at (616) 534-4228. All of our Lead Technicians are CSIA certified chimney sweeps and are ready to help you with all of your chimney needs.
By Cassandra Cotto
Hancock Chimney Service