More Than Throwing In Some Newspapers
Many people enjoy using their fireplace during the winter to enjoy a warm fire. However, there are many people who do not know how to properly build a fire. It may seem as though it is as simple as throwing in some logs and lighting a match. However, building a fire safely and properly takes a bit of skill. There are a few simple tips any homeowner can follow to build a safe, roaring fire in their fireplace.
One of the most important things to keep in mind before beginning a fire is that the fireplace and chimney must be kept clean. Before starting the fire, take a look into the chimney with a flashlight and make sure that there are no obstructions. In many cases, leaves or animals can make their way into the chimney and block it. If this happens, smoke will come right into the home instead of going out through the chimney, which can be unpleasant as well as unsafe for the family.
An essential first step to building a fire is one that many people tend to forget. Before doing anything at all, make sure that the damper is open. In most chimneys, this is done by simply pulling a small cord or handle. The damper opens up the chimney and allows smoke as well as other combustible gasses to exit the home safely. Leaving the damper closed is a common mistake and many people realize it only when the home begins to fill with smoke from the fireplace.
Once the chimney is clear and the damper is open, it is a good idea to prime the flue. When the damper opens, the flue will immediately fill with cold air. It must be warmed up gradually before it is safe to build a big fire in the fireplace. This is best accomplished by lighting a bit of newspaper and holding it under the flue. Once it becomes warm, it will be in perfect condition for a warm, cozy fire.
When building the fire, keep in mind that only certain materials should be burned in the fireplace. Some people choose to use coal but most find seasoned firewood to be the best choice. Before going into the fireplace, wood should be left out to season for about eight months to a year. If anything else is used, the consequences could be disastrous. The fire may burn too hot and fill the house with smoke, which could also lead to a chimney fire. Other materials may also create chemicals that are toxic to everyone in the home.
Of course, keeping the chimney and fireplace clean is an important part of home maintenance. However, it is a good idea to keep a layer of ash measuring about an inch on the bottom of the firebox. This insulates the firebox and helps to burn a strong, warm fire. After each fire, sweep out the fireplace but leave a small layer of ash behind to help insulate the next fire.
Following a few simple tips will not only keep a fire warm and cozy, but it will ensure that it is safe. Before doing anything, make sure that the flue is free of any blockages and that the damper is open to allow smoke out. Start the fire slowly and let it build to a safe and enjoyable glow.