Santa's Friend Chimney Service

The Best Way to Start a Cold Fireplace


If you have ever attempted to start a fire in a cold fireplace, you are most likely familiar with how difficult and frustrating it can be. When the fireplace is cold, you can end up with smoke rushing into your home when you do get a fire going due to the cold air from the chimney pushing down into the fireplace. This issue can be even worse if your chimney is located on the exterior of your house. At Santa’s Friend Chimney Service, we are asked regularly about how to best start a fire in a cold fireplace, so we thought we would give you some tips to help you be as warm as possible this winter.

Starting Your Cold Fireplace - Jackson MS

Be sure that the damper is fully opened.

Although this sounds obvious, some people think that if they keep the damper closed while trying to start a fire, it will keep the cold chimney air from causing problems. However, this does not work and can be disastrous. Always ensure that your damper is completely opened before you attempt to start a fire. If the damper is closed, you could end up becoming ill from smoke inhalation.

Warm up the flue.

To counteract the rush of the cold air sinking down from the chimney into the fireplace it is recommended that you prime the flue by lighting a rolled-up newspaper and holding it up the damper for a few minutes until you feel the draft reverse. This will let you know that your flue is primed and ready to go.

Develop a bed of ashes.

While it is important to keep your fireplace clean from ashes, you should leave behind a layer of about one inch of ashes to help insulate your fireplace. Even the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends this tip. If you have never burned a fire in your fireplace and have no ashes, you can take ashes from your outdoor grill to build an ash bed. Just keep in mind that the ash bed should not be higher than one inch.

Know the best way to build a fire.

Of course, there are several ways to build a fire, but if you build your fire upside down, you will have a long-lasting and clean-burning fire. Place your large pieces of firewood at the bottom, and then stack smaller logs on top. On the top of this stack, add a layer of kindling. To finish your upside down build, top off the stack with bunched-up balls of newspaper, and then light the stack from the top.

For more suggestions and tips on burning wood, click here to contact us at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service. We are here to help you stay warm and safe this fireplace season!

By on October 15th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment


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