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Guide to Building the Perfect Fireplace Fire

When the temperature drops, nothing feels better than warming your hands next to a blazing fire. That’s why a house with a fireplace is perfect for the winter season and why so many homeowners covet this feature when buying a new home. However, when some homeowners choose to update their homes, they opt for an electric fireplace because it’s simple to start and doesn’t require gas or chopping wood. But for the purist who enjoys the look and the smell of an authentic fire, there are a couple steps you can follow so that you can create the perfect fireplace fire.

Make Sure Your Chimney Is Clean and Clear of Blockages

Useless you want that woodsy burning scent to be accompanied by a plume of thick black smoke, you’ll need to make sure your chimney is clean. Sweep the chimney at least once even if you’ve never used it before. A chimney could have any number of things hiding in them from animal nests to leaves that have collected. Also, if you don’t want to look down the chimney yourself, you can always hire a chimney sweeper.

Check the Damper and Make Sure It’s Open

The damper controls the air flow in your chimney through the flue. You can check that the damper is open just by feeling inside the chimney and checking for a draft, but if there isn’t any, then odds are the damper is closed.

You’ll also want to make sure the draft isn’t coming down. In this situation, a fire could blow into your home if the draft is coming down. You can usually find the damper in the chimney with a flashlight. If you do find that the damper is closed, you’ll want to open it before you start your fire, or you’ll fill up your house with smoke.

Make Sure the Flue Is Primed

If you do happen to get a downdraft from your chimney it could be because your flue is cold and causing the cold air to sink into your warm home. This is a scenario that could lead to smoke blowing back into your house. To avoid this, you need to prime the flue, which means you just have to warm it up before you use it. This can be done by lighting a rolled-up newspaper and holding it next to the open damper for a couple minutes. If you feel the air start to drift upwards, then you’re good to go.

Build an Ash Bed

This will allow you to have better-insulated fires that burn hotter. This is easy to accomplish if you’ve used your fireplace in the past, but if you’ve never used it before, then you need to create some ash. This can be accomplished by adding ashes from an outdoor grill.  You want a layer that’s 1-2 inches thick—too much ash can cause you trouble so remember to clear some away from time to time. Otherwise, now you’re ready to grab kindling and build a fire.