How to Start a Cozy Fireplace Fire

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One of my favorite
things about winter is spending time next to a warm and cozy fireplace
fire. What’s more romantic than snuggling up to your gal in
front of a glowing fire? And what’s more relaxing than coming
home from a long day of work, sitting in your man chair, and unwinding
next to a glowing hearth?

If you’ve
never started a fire in a fireplace (and no, those automatic electric
fireplace don’t count), then this guide is for you.

1. Make
sure your chimney is clean and free of blockages.
It’s
always a good idea to get your chimney swept before you start lighting
fires in it. Even if you haven’t used it, animal nests and
old leaves can cause blockages that will result in a smoke-filled
house. Call a chimney sweep to come check out your chimney. Of course,
you should have done this already when you winterized
your house
.

2. Open
the damper.
I made the mistake of not opening the damper the
first time I made a fire in a fireplace. The heater had gone out
in our house, and we were in the middle of an ice storm. I tried
being the big hero by starting up a cozy fire in the fireplace.
I got the fire going, but it filled the entire house with smoke.
Don’t be like me. Make sure to open the damper all the way
if you want to avoid keeling over from smoke inhalation.

3. Prime
the flue.
If your chimney is built on the outside of your house,
the chimney flue is probably cold. When you open the damper,
the cold air in the flue will sink and come into your warm house.
If you try to light a fire during this air sink, you’re going
to end up with smoke coming into the house instead of up the chimney.
To counteract the air sink, you need to prime the flue by warming
it up. This is done by lighting a roll of newspaper and holding
it up the damper opening for a few minutes. When you feel the draft
reverse, you know the flue is primed, and you’re ready to start
your fire. If you have a fireplace that has a gas pipe to supplement
your wood burning, turn on the gas and light the pilot light without
any wood in the fireplace. Your flue will warm up in a matter of
minutes.

Read
the rest of the article

November
25, 2010

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