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How to Enjoy Your Home Fire Safely

  • Easy tips for starting your fire

  • valuable troubleshooting hints

  • Efficient burning techniques

  • How to avoid chimney fires

Starting Your Fire

Open the Damper

This is forgotten more often than most people care to admit.


What You Will Need

Tinder. A few sheets of crumpled newspaper make the best tinder. You can also use small twigs, pine needles, or pine cones.


Kindling. Large twigs, small branches and small splits of wood anywhere from 1/4" to 1"thickness will do. This is the most important ingredient for building a good fire and usually the most overlooked.


Fuel. 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 several months. Loose bark and cracks in the ends are signs of seasoned wood.

Starting the Fire

Arrange two small to medium sized pieces of firewood on the grate, and place some crumpled up newspaper for tinder between the logs.


Next cover the tinder with several pieces of 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.

Warm up the Flue

For fireplaces, warm up the flue by holding a piece of burning rolled-up newspaper in the (opened) damper region for 10-15 seconds. This helps the flue establish a good draft. Then light the tinder. Within a few minutes you should have a nice, hot, roaring fire!


Important Do's and Don'ts


Is your damper open? If it is and the smoke continues, open a window nearby for a minute or two until the fire is going well, and then you can close ti 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 the chimney continues to smoke, call a chimney professional. Your chimney may be clogged by animal nests or an accumulation of soot and creosote, or it may have additional problems.


If there is a sour sticky smell, it is 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 to the creosote.


your chimney professional can also recommend a good chimney deodorant to handle any remaining odor which has been absorbed into the masonry. 


Slow smoldering fires or the use of unseasoned wood can create "cool" smoke and a weak draft. Under these conditions the smoke condenses and sticks to the chimneys interior, forming highly flammable creosote.



The key is burn small, hot fires, using hardwood - that will mnimize creosote accumulation and maximize heat output.


Keep fires burning hot with flames, not smoldering with a lot of smoke.


Be careful not to add to much firewood. In a fireplace, keep the top of the flames visible below the fireplace opening. In a woodstove, 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 an 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, seperate 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.

Burning Techniques

  • Burn only seasoned wood.

  • Do not burn trash in a fireplace or woodstove.

  • Do not allow the fire to smolder

  • Contact your chimney professional to clean your chimney regularly.

Creosote is the Main Cause of Chimney Fires

If You Have a Chimney Fire

Get everyone out of the house.

Call a chimney professional before using it again.

Even a small chimney fire can damage the chimney, making it unsafe to use.

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.

Call the fire department.

If flames are visible at the chimney top, hose down the roof, but not the chimney. Spraying water on a hot chimney could damage it.

Commit your work to the Lord, then it will succeed.  Proverbs 16:3 LB


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