Of the many amenities people look for a in a home, a fireplace typically features somewhere in their top ten list. But if you are among the many who have always wanted a fireplace, bought a home with one, and are not sure how to use one, read on as we answer some of the more common questions about getting started.
1. A Chimney Inspection Is Required
Chimney fires are extremely common during the winters, and the most common cause is a buildup of creosote and soot. Before you build your first fire, call in a professional chimney sweep to clean and inspect the chimney and fireplace. Doing so before each winter will make your chimney last longer and reduce the risk of fire significantly.
2. Get Everything Ready
Clean out any old ashes and leftover bits and pieces from a previous fire. If they are not cool, you should either wait until they are or place them outside in a metal bucket away from your home. Take a look at the damper and make sure it is the fully open position.
3. The Right Wood
The best wood for use in a fireplace is hardwood that has been seasoned for a minimum of six months or longer. Seasoned wood is dark in color, split at the ends, and the logs sound hollow when you tap on them or knock them together. You can burn less seasoned wood, but it will not burn as well and will add more creosote to your chimney putting you at risk of a chimney fire.
4. Set to Light
The best way to set your fireto light the first time, is to place a layer of crumpled newspaper in the bottom of the fireplace and then add a pile of thin strips of wood (kindling) in a cone around the newspaper. Leave the bigger logs out at first.
5. Preheat the Flue
One of the biggest reasons for smoke flowing back into the house instead of up the flue immediately, is that the flueis full of cold air. Create a torch from rolled up newspaper, light it, and hold it up to the flue, the heat will flow up off the flue quickly, taking the smoke from the burning newspaper with it. When this happens, it’s time to light the fire.
6. Add the Big Logs and Enjoy
Once the kindling has reached the point of becoming a well-established fire, you can add one or two small logs to the fire. From here it’s a matter of keeping the logs piled on and enjoying the fruits of your labors.
At the end of the night be sure you damp down the fire and close the metal or glass doors if your fireplace has them or place a spark arresting screen in front of it. Be sure you clean out the old ashes daily to prevent the buildup of a thicklayer that could cause hot, burning logs to roll out of the fireplace. Be sure your smoke detectors are working and that you have a functional fire extinguisher in an easy to reach location, then simplyenjoy the pleasure of an open fire.