As winter approaches, you may be one of the lucky few that have recently installed a new fireplace in your home. Whether it is a typical brick fireplace, or a contemporary type there are some things you need to understand before you start your first fire. One contemporary type, ventless gas models, essentially require the user to turn it on and the technology takes care of the rest, but other types require the user to build a fire similar to building a fire at a campsite or in an outdoor fireplace.
Here is a quick checklist and brief description of each item to get you started:
-Open the damper of the chimney
-Ensure the chimney has positive draft. In other words, the chimney and fireplace are designed to suck the smoke from the fire up the chimney shaft and outside the home instead of your living room. To do this, simply light a match and hold it adjacent to the start of the chimney outlet inside the firebox. The flame of the match should bend in the direction of the outlet. If this happens, your chimney is ready to go.
-Building a perfect fire starts with using seasoned firewood cut to the appropriate length. Seasoned firewood has typically been cut, split, and stacked a season prior to when it is used. If you do not have access to timber, you can find several local vendors which will be happy to sell you a cord of firewood.
-Place crumbled up paper under the wood grates, usually ten pieces of paper will work, then cover with small kindling or a premanufactured fire starter log.
-Safely light the crumbled up paper and its fire will light the kindling on fire. Once the kindling is on fire and is burning brightly, place a few (no more than three) small pieces of seasoned firewood onto the fire.
-Place the fireplace screen over the hearth or close the door on the wood burning fireplace insert.
-After the season firewood is burning swiftly, add a few additional pieces being careful not to tumble out the fire and not to overload the firebox creating excess heat.
While the fireplace is in use, it is important that the fireplace screen is in place for safety purposes. Many individuals have purchased contemporary fireplace accessories, including beveled glass enclosures or have designed their brick fireplaces to have integral inserts which have doors as opposed to screens or enclosures. Which ever type you have, safety remains first as burns from a fireplace can be very serious.