This winter you want to enjoy your fireplace. It is there on the cool nights for an evening of relaxation, entertaining, or warm your living space. If you don’t have a gas fireplace, odds are you might struggle to light a fire on a cold evening. A cold chimney makes it difficult to light a fire because the chimney is filled with cold air. This air can do two things:

  1. It can fall into your fireplace (and into your room) when you open the damper to vent your fire.
  2. It can block the smoke and exhaust from rising up the chimney.

The Problem

When your chimney is filled with cold air, smoke won’t rise up the chimney. This is because a new, small fire isn’t hot enough to push up the chimney. This can cause the harmful vapors and smoke to move into your living space.

The Solution

There are a couple of ways homeowners can make lighting a fire in a cold fireplace easier. Some homeowners decide to open the damper and allow the cold air in the chimney to fall into the fireplace. This option is especially viable if you have a central heating system in your home, because it won’t affect the overall heat. You should remember there are several cubic feet of frigid air in the chimney, and if the fireplace is your source of heat for the room, you will definitely add to the cold by using this method.

A Better Solution—Priming the Chimney

In order to prepare the chimney for the job of venting, the fire’s exhaust you can warm it slowly. First, find the opening from the fireplace or stove that leads to the chimney. Light a rolled newspaper, or roll of paper scraps, and hold it in the opening until it is completely finished burning. This small amount of heat can rise up, warming the air slowly. This prevents large amounts of smoke to move into your house. By the time the paper is finished burning, your chimney should be primed to vent your fire.

The Best Fire

The Chimney Safety Institute (CSIA) top-down burn over the traditional fire in all situations, including a cold fireplace. The top-down burn is opposite the tradition fire, in that the large logs are on the bottom, followed by medium, then smaller sticks, and kindling at the top. This way the fire, embers, and ash fall, letting gravity keep the fire going, burning all the fuel completely, and offering a cleaner burn and a more efficient fire. It is also easier to light a fire if you use properly seasoned wood when lighting and a using your fireplace.

For more information about your fireplace and how to operate it better with every burn, click here. You can also call a professional anytime between 7am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. Call 617-469-4528 today.