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Tips For Starting A Cold Fireplace

As outside temperatures get colder, it becomes more difficult to effectively start your fireplace. In addition to having trouble keeping kindling lit, many homeowners experience problems with smoke blow-back or poor drafting for several minutes after the fire is started. Caused by what is known as a “cold fireplace,” these performance issues can often be easily remedied. The following tips can help you better start a fire in your cold fireplace!

Tips For Starting A Cold Fireplace Image - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps of MichiganUse the right firewood.

Not all wood is created equal. The kind of firewood you use can have a major impact on fireplace performance. This includes how efficiently your fire burns, how much heat it gives off, or how much smoke is produced. To maximize fireplace performance, homeowners should try to only use seasoned hardwoods. These include ash, birch, and oak in their indoor fireplaces. Wood should be seasoned for at least six months. This is to remove the maximum amount of moisture. The lower the moisture content in the wood, the less smoke is produced and the more efficiently it burns. Freshly cut wood, as well as soft woods such as firs and pines, are slow to ignite. They also burn sluggishly and create more smoke. To start your fire quickly, intermix kindling with your stack of firewood. This helps all the wood ignite quickly instead of one log at a time.

Open the damper all the way.

Many homeowners have fallen prey to the old wives’ tale that a partially open damper is best when starting a fire. However, the opposite is true. Partially closing the damper can cause more smoke to blow back into your home. Opening the damper fully allows fresh air to be drawn down the chimney. This helps to draft the smoke and gas from the fire up and out. For effective fire safety, keep the damper completely open from when the first kindling is lit until the last coal has extinguished.

Warm the flue.

Warming the flue is one of the most effective ways to successfully start a cold fireplace. The air temperature outside is drastically different than the air temperature inside during the winter. Due to this, it can be difficult for a fireplace to properly draft between the warm and cold air. Without warming the flue, the cold air in the chimney will drop as the warm air from the fire begins to rise. This can push any smoke and gas back down the chimney and into your home. While this problem often corrects itself after several minutes, it can leave you coughing. It also creates a smoky odor in your home and even stain your furnishings or décor.

To warm the flue, place a small bundle of lit kindling or newspaper under the open damper for several minutes. Taking the time to complete this step can slowly warm the air in the flue, preventing the smoke blow-back when the main logs are lit.

Starting a cold fireplace in the winter doesn’t have to be a chore! By following these tips, you can get a great fire every time, no matter the temperature outside. For more information on starting a cold fireplace, contact Clean Sweeps of Michigan today!

Are You Starting A Fire Correctly?

Sitting in front of a roaring fire is one of the most comforting – and warm – places to be during cold winter weather. However, getting a fire started is often the most difficult part of the process.

Many their best efforts, many homeowners are incorrectly starting their fires. This not only causes frustration, but can also lead to fires that burn sluggishly, need constant stoking, or burn out prematurely.

The following tips will help you start a fire correctly. While it may be different from how you’ve started fires in the past, following these tips can help you spend less time building your fire and more time enjoying it with family and friends.

1. Get the right materials

Are You Starting A Fire Correctly - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps MILong before you think about lighting your fire, it is important to make sure you have the right materials. The type of firewood you use can not only affect how well your fires start, but can also create different amounts of smoke and heat. While different people may prefer different firewood varieties, seasoned firewood should be used whenever possible. Seasoned wood, which has been allowed to cure and dry for at least six months, has much lower moisture content than freshly cut wood. These allow it to burn hotter and produce less smoke and creosote.

In addition to finding the right firewood, homeowners also need kindling to help start the fire. Softwoods such as cedar, fir, or pine are able to ignite quickly and can burn until the larger logs catch fire. Small bundles of twigs and sticks can have the same effect. While newspaper can be used, it often burns too quickly to ignite larger logs; for this reason, using smaller pieces of wood is preferable.

2. Open the damper

When the fireplace is in use, the damper needs to be open – even when starting a fire or waiting for it to extinguish. Leaving the damper even partially closed can cause smoke and dangerous gasses such as carbon monoxide [] to back up into the home.

If you’re having problems with smoke backing up into your home even when the damper is open, your home may be too airtight. Cracking a window even a few inches near the fireplace can help the fireplace vent better and prevent this from happening. Likewise, opening a window can have another unexpected benefit; letting more oxygen into your home can provide more “fuel to the fire,” creating a hotter and more efficient burn.

3. Try a top down fire

Building a top down fire can greatly impact how your fires burn, as well as how much you’ll need to stoke it. Place the largest logs on the bottom of the grate with the ends to the front and back; doing this creates better oxygen flow to the fire and keeps the fire from smoldering or burning sluggishly. Fill the fireplace with gradually smaller and smaller logs, topping the pile with kindling. As the smaller logs burn they ignite the logs underneath them, keeping the fire going and minimizing the need for stoking or rearranging logs.

Following these three fireplace tips can help you better start – and enjoy – your fires. For more information on getting the most out of your fireplace, contact Clean Sweeps of Michigan at 734-668-4780 today!

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