One of the most primitive acts still performed today, starting a fire should be easy. However, when your fireplace and chimney are cold, it can be a difficult task. You can end up with a weak flame or smoke blowing back into your home when cold air rushes into the chimney once you open up the damper. You will be most likely to experience this problem if your chimney is on the exterior of your house. Our staff at Ashbusters want our customers to fully enjoy the experience of a warm fire, so we thought we would share with you some tips from The Art of Manliness on how to best ignite a fire in a cold fireplace.
Be sure your fireplace and chimney are prepared.
Before you light that first fire, ensure that your fireplace and chimney have been professionally cleaned and inspected. You should also be sure that you have fully opened the damper before starting the fire. You want to be sure all of the smoke, toxic gases, and other byproducts of combustion to exit out of the chimney, and a closed damper can keep this from happening.
Prime the flue of the chimney.
After you open the damper, the cold air from the chimney is going to sink and enter your house. Trying to ignite a fire as this cold air is sinking will result in smoke coming into your house with the cold air. You have to counteract the cold air by warming up the flue of the chimney. All you have to do is light a rolled-up newspaper and hold it up through the damper opening for a few minutes. You will actually be able to feel the draft reverse once the flue has been primed.
Insulate the fireplace with a bed of ashes.
To create insulation for a hotter fire, a one- to two-inch layer of ashes is recommended by chimney experts like the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). If you do not have any ashes left over from last year, you can use ashes from your outdoor grill. Just remember that in this case, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Build your fire upside down.
Instead of the traditional fire lay where you place tinder at the bottom and larger logs on top, start off by placing the largest logs at the bottom of the fire grate. Stack smaller logs on top of these, and add a layer of kindling at the top. Light the fire from the top. It will burn cleaner because the smoke does not have to pass through the colder logs. Also, it will require less maintenance.
For more wood-burning tips, contact us at Ashbusters. We love educating our customers on the best ways to enjoy a beautiful fire.