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If you have a fireplace or woodstove in your home, you have the opportunity for cozy nights, warming up your rooms, and adding beauty and character to your home. But if you can’t get the fire started, you won’t be able to enjoy all the great benefits! If you are a fireplace or woodstove owner looking for tips on how to build a great fire, read on — you will be a fire-starting pro in no time!

Choose the Right Wood

Never burn unseasoned, or “green” firewood. You want to be sure that the wood has had enough time to dry out before you use it in your home. Firewood should be cured for about a year before you burn it. Never burn treated wood, or plywood or particle board — these could all release dangerous toxins that are bad for you to inhale. Other materials, like plastic, glossy magazines, or even too much paper, should not be burned. Use split firewood, not whole logs. When firewood is split it exposes the drier inside layers to the fire, and the fire will burn better. Use hardwoods for longer burning time, and softer woods, like pine, to quickly catch and start your fire. Firewood should be stored outside, elevated from the ground, so that air can circulate and the wood continues to dry.

Make Sure Your Chimney is Clean

Before you light any fires, you want to ensure that your chimney is clean, free of creosote buildup, and there are no blockages. If you have just moved into your home, or you haven’t had a fire in quite awhile, having your chimney inspected is always a good idea. A buildup of creosote can present a fire danger, and your chimney won’t work as effectively. Animals can build nests in your chimney, leaves and twigs can fall in, or the bricks and flashing on the outside of your home could need repair. Before you strike that match, call the chimney experts at Chimney Care Plus today to ensure that your chimney is clean and safe.

Open the Damper!

Guess what happens when you start a fire and the damper isn’t opened? If you have ever done this, you know that the smoke that fills your home is hard to get rid of! The damper is great for keeping drafts out of your home, but when it is time for a fire it has to be opened! If you don’t know where your damper is, look at your fireplace or woodstove manual, or call the experts at Chimney Care Plus for help!

Prime Your Flue

Have you ever made sure to open the damper, and still ended up with a houseful of smoke? It might be because you didn’t prime your flue. Your flue can become cold from the outside air, and when the damper is opened this cold air sinks. When you try to light your fire, you are working against this cold air sink, and smoke from your fire is pushed into your home. You can remedy this problem by warming up the flue. Light a roll of newspaper and hold it in your fireplace, allowing the hot air to move up into the flue. You might see the flame flatten, and the smoke go downward, but eventually the draft will reverse and you will know your flue is primed and the air is flowing out of your home. Now your fireplace or woodstove will burn with the smoke going the right way: out the chimney.

Keep Some Ash

While you don’t want too much ash clogging your fireplace or woodstove, having a layer of ash is actually a good thing. One to two inches of ash will create a bed that insulates your fireplace and makes your fires hotter. While this ash bed can be helpful, make sure you are regularly cleaning the inside of your fireplace and not letting too much ash build up.

Use Kindling

Trying to light a huge log isn’t going to work. Start small, and use newspapers or twigs to form a base. Add in smaller pieces that will burn next, and save the biggest stuff for when your fire is actually started. Going too big at the start will usually just result in frustration and a fire that doesn’t start.

Find a Method

There are many different ways to build your fire, and claims on which one will work the best. Find something that works for you, and that allows you to quickly and easily build a great fire. One popular method is the “log cabin” formation where you stack your firewood in a Lincoln Log style that gives you a cabin build. The kindling and smaller pieces go in the middle of your cabin, and the fire burns from the middle out. Another method is the “upside down” technique, where you lay your largest logs at the bottom, and layer the smaller pieces flat on top, alternating directions, with the kindling at the very top. You light the fire from the top, and the embers will fall down and ignite the lower layers. The upside-down method creates a strong draft and a hot fire.

Now that you know how to start a great fire, you just need to wait for the weather to cool down, and the days to become shorter, to try out your skills! If you need any assistance with your woodstove or fireplace, don’t hesitate to call Chimney Care Plus in Frederick today! We offer chimney repair services for homeowners in Frederick, Mt. Airy, Hagerstown, Myersville, and the surrounding areas.