Like many people, one of my favorite winter hobbies is enjoying the orange glow of a fire in my home’s fireplace. It’s relaxing, fun to watch, and above all, warm! It’s no wonder that a functioning fireplace can seriously increase the value of a home.
With all of that said, there’s a lot that goes into building a fire in a safe, effective manner. It’s important to fully understand the ins and outs of the process before undertaking it, so don’t rush in.
Here are some of the best tips for building a fire in your fireplace:
Keep Your Chimney Clear
Before you start lighting fires in it, consider getting your chimney swept. Whether you’ve used it or not, there’s a good chance that animal nests or old leaves have accumulated inside, which can cause blockages that will result in a smoke-filled house.
Open The Damper
If you try starting a fire with the damper closed, you’ll soon find yourself with a house full of smoke. Be sure to open the damper, located inside the chimney (just above the fireplace), anytime you choose to start a fire, and close it afterward so your house doesn’t get chilly.
Prime The Flue
Assuming your chimney was built on the outside of your home, the flue will likely be cold in the winter months. Once the damper opens, the cold air in the flue will sink and come up into your home, and lighting a fire during the air sink will end up with smoke coming into the house instead of up the chimney. To avoid this, prime the flue by warming it up with a lit roll of newspaper. Holding the newspaper up the damper opening for a few minutes should do the trick, and once you feel the draft reverse, you’ll be ready to start the fire.
Develop an Ash Bed
By having an ash bed in your fireplace hearth, your fireplace as a whole will be insulated and any fire you build will be hotter. If you’ve never built a fire in your fireplace before, take the ashes from your outdoor grill and place them in the fireplace to build the ash bed.
Build an Upside Down Fire
If there’s a particular way you like to build a fire, by all means do it, but the best option for building a clean burning fire that lasts for hours is the “upside down” method. Start by stacking large fuel logs on the bottom of the fire grate, with smaller logs on top and a kindling layer on top of the stack. Then, top off the stack with tinder and light the fire from the top. Because the smoke coming from the fire won’t have to pass through the cold logs, the fire will burn cleaner.
Source: The Art of Manliness