Start a Fireplace

Edited by Emmanuel M. Lardizabal, Eng, Rebecca M., Lynn and 3 others

Does the crackling sound of fire evoke the thought of home to you? Is sitting by a fireplace providing you warmth, comfort, and serenity? If yes, you're among the 77% of home buyers who said they want to grace their home with a fireplace.

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Christmas Season Starts

Having a fireplace inside the house has been a practice dating back from the middle ages, when people living in medieval castles and homes lit the hearth for warmth. Today, fireplaces are desired not only as a primary source of heat, but also for aesthetics, luxury and even as a way of reducing electricity bill. Regardless of your reason for having a fireplace at home, sitting by the warm structure remains to be one of life's simple pleasures especially during Christmas season when air gets colder. More than ever, this is the time to learn the method of starting a fire in the fireplace correctly.

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Materials Needed

  • Wood. dry seasoned hardwood
  • Kindling. small pieces of wood, sticks, or branches for igniting.
  • Igniter. an implement such as lighter or match to be used in lighting the logs.
  • Paper. use only newspaper and any kind of paper without coating or no applied materials like glue or paint on it.
  • Broom and Dust Pan. these are to be used in cleaning and collecting the dust in the fireplace.

The Ideal Type of Wood to Use as Firewood

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Dry seasoned hardwoods such as hickory, ash, oak, and hard maple are the best wood species to burn. While soft woods such as pine and spruce will burn, they don't provide as much heat. Avoid using green unseasoned woods because besides having low burning efficiency, they will only deposit creosote along the linings of the chimney. It takes at least six months to a year for wood to completely dry to reach the 20% moisture level to produce a good fire. To determine if the wood is seasoned, listen for a hollow sound when two logs are knocked together. Seasoned wood also appears darker and cracked.

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Steps in starting a fire

  1. 1
    Be sure that your chimney is clean and free of build-up.
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    A blocked chimney will prevent the smooth passage of smoke, causing it to find another way into the house. {
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  2. 2
    Clean the fireplace.
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    With the broom and dust pan, remove the remnants of dirt or ashes from previous use.
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  3. 3
    Check if the damper is open.
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    The damper is the device that controls the air. An open damper effectively prevents smoke from entering into the house.
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  4. 4
    Check the draft.
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    To find out, light a match near the opening of the flue. If the draft is coming down, light a starter block to create some warmth to drive the draft upwards. Never start a fire if the draft is coming down.
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  5. 5
    Break the logs into pieces.
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    Broken logs are easier to set into fire.
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  6. 6
    Crumple several sheets of paper and place them in the middle of the fireplace.
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    Do not use more paper than necessary as it will only create lots of smoke.
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  7. 7
    Place kindling or small pieces of dry wood over the crumpled paper.
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  8. 8
    Position the logs over the crumpled paper and kindling, laying them on top of each other, starting from right to left to form a pyramid.
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    The essence of positioning it in criss-crossed layer is for the fire to have only one direction in the center and for smoke to pass through the logs. Do not stack the wood too high inside the fireplace.
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  9. 9
    Set the crumpled paper on fire by lighting in several locations.
    photo
    The kindling will start to ignite and consume the paper. You can add more kindling if needed to sustain the burning fire. Do not add more paper when the wood is already on fire. Stay on guard for the first 30 minutes to check if smoke is smoothly going up through the chimney.
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  10. 10
    Add smaller pieces of dry wood only after the kindling starts to burn.
    photo
    Adding during the initial stage will choke the air and stifle the fire.
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  11. 11
    When the wood begins to ignite, check the smoke.
     
    1. black smoke means the fire needs oxygen. Poke the stack of wood to create gaps for air to travel around the logs.
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    2. grey smoke indicates incomplete combustion caused by either wet wood or over supply of oxygen into the fire.
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    3. reduced smoke is a good sign that the perfect condition for combustion has been achieved.
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  12. 12
    Add larger pieces of seasoned firewood for continuous fire.
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  13. 13
    Poke the fire every 30 minutes to feed new air into the wood stack.
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    If the fire is producing red, glowing embers, it means there is good combustion going on.
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  14. 14
    Wash your hands.
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  15. 15
    Enjoy the heat coming from your fireplace.
    Make sure you have your special someone to cuddle with beside you.
    photo
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Potential Dangers in the Use of Fireplace

in spite of the good purposes that a fireplace and chimneys are constructed for, they have been attributed to more than 25,000 house fires occurring every year, with at least 10 reported cases of fatalities. Some of the dangers directly associated with fireplace operation are:

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  1. 1
    Popping sparks that ignite rugs or furniture to fire
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  2. 2
    Combustible materials set too near the fire
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  3. 3
    Presence of carbon monoxide in the house
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  4. 4
    Toxic particles produced in the smoke # Build-up of pressure to cause fire in the chimney
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Safety and Maintenance Practices

  1. 1
    Conduct routine inspection of the fireplace and its components:
    chimney, flue, and damper.
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  2. 2
    Hire a professional chimney sweeper to perform thorough internal inspection and cleaning.
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  3. 3
    Do not place combustible materials near the fireplace.
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  4. 4
    Install a fire screen or door to prevent sparks from flying out from the hearth.
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  5. 5
    Install smoke detectors within the radius of the fireplace and in other parts of the house.
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  6. 6
    Keep a fire extinguisher near the fireplace.
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Tips, tricks and warning

  • Use a medical mask while cleaning the chimney.
  • Do not use wet or decaying wood for the fireplace.
  • Do not use cardboard and chipboard as kindling.
  • Do not use treated or painted wood in the fireplace as these will produce harmful toxic fumes.
  • Don't pour gas or kerosene to start a fire in the fireplace.
  • Leave a few inches of ash below the grate to serve as coal bed for radiating heat.
  • Stop adding wood to the fire about 2-3 hours before leaving off. That will be enough time for the fire to die down.
  • As the fire dies down, gradually close the damper to maintain a draft and to control the entry of cold air. Wait until the fire is completely extinguished before closing the damper.
  • Make sure the fireplace screen or door is closed before you retire to bed.

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Categories : Noindexed pages | Holidays & Traditions | Home

Recent edits by: Nerissa Avisado, Anonymous, Lynn

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