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What should I do in order to safely enjoy having a fire in the fireplace?
1. Open the Damper (This is forgotten more often than most people care to admit).
2. Warm up the Flue: For fireplaces: Warm up the flue by holding a piece of burning rolled-up newspaper into the damper opening. Repeat with a second piece of rolled up newspaper. This helps the flue establish a good draft.
3. Start the Fire: Arrange two small to medium sized pieces of firewood on the grate, and place some crumpled up newspaper for tinder between logs. Now cover the tinder with several pieces of kindling. Be generous with the kindling - it's the most important element in starting your fire. Now, place two more pieces of firewood on top of the kindling and two more at right angles to these two. Leave some space between the logs for air circulation. Light tinder. NOTE: Use only well-seasoned hardwood. If you have to burn softwoods, be certain they are well seasoned. Look for split, dry wood that has been stacked for up to a year. Loose bark and cracks in the ends are signs of seasoned wood.
4. Close or position your spark screen(s).
Important do’s and don’ts
· DO check the manufacturer's guidelines for your wood stove or insert.
· DO use seasoned hardwood.
· DO use commercial fire starters if you like. They eliminate the need for tinder and reduce the amount of kindling required.
· DON'T use charcoal lighter fluid or other flammable liquids. These are extremely dangerous. (Gel fire starters are okay.)
· DON'T use coal in a wood stove or fireplace unless there are specific written instructions - it will burn, not safely.
· DON'T burn artificial logs in a wood stove, unless they are specifically designed for wood stove use. Artificial logs can dirty the chimney much faster than regular wood, and can be hazardous in certain situations.
· DON'T burn treated lumber, trash, or anything other than wood in your fireplace or wood stove.
Smoke spillage problems: Is your damper open? If it is and the smoking continues, open a nearby window a crack for a minute or two until the fire is going well - then you can close it again. If it just smokes when you light the fire, it may be because the flue is cold. Did you warm the flue with a burning rolled-up newspaper held in the damper region? (If not, that usually works.)
If the chimney continues to spill smoke, call a chimney professional. Your chimneys draft may be impeded by a clogged by a dead animal, accumulation of soot/ creosote or it may have additional problems. The “ STACK EFFECT” is also a possibility.
Chimney odours: The sour, sickly odour is the smell of creosote. The solution is to call a chimney professional to clean your chimney and install a chimney cap to prevent water from entering and reacting with the creosote. Your chimney professional can also recommend a good chimney deodorant to handle any remaining odour which has been absorbed into the masonry.
Efficient Burning Techniques
· The key is to burn small, hot fires, using hardwood that will minimize creosote accumulation and maximize heat output.
· Keep fires burning hot with flames, not smoldering with a lot of smoke.
· Be careful not to add too much firewood. In a fireplace, keep the top of the flames visible below the fireplace opening. In a wood stove, keep the flames confined to the wood stove itself.
· With glass doors, keep the doors wide open with the screen closed for a good half hour after starting the fire. When you see the fire is burning well, close the doors and set any draft controls.
· It's better to add smaller loads more often than to cram in a lot of wood trying to get an all-day burn.
· When you're ready to put out a fire, separate the logs by moving them to the side of the fireplace or stand them on end in the back of the fireplace. Close the screen or glass doors tightly, but don't close the damper until you're sure the fire and coals are completely out.
How to avoid chimney fires
Creosote is the main cause of chimney fires. A buildup of creosote is highly combustible and can result in a chimney fire.
To minimize creosote:
· Burn only seasoned wood
· Do not burn trash in a fireplace or wood stove
· Don't allow the fire to smolder
· Contact your chimney professional to clean your chimney regularly
What to do if you have a chimney fire
· Get everyone out of the house
· Call the fire department
· Don't close the damper. If you have a fireplace with glass doors, close the doors and the vents. If you have a wood stove, close the doors and the air inlets
· If flames are visible at the chimney top hose down the roof but not the chimney. Spraying water on a hot chimney will very likely damage it
· Call a chimney professional before using it again. Even a small chimney fire can damage the chimney, making it unsafe to use.
:: FIRESTARTING 101 ::