Nothing beats sitting by your fireplace on a chilly winter night. There are always ways to improve your fire with the condition of your chimney and using special techniques in your fireplace. Following these suggestions can not only improve the fire in your fireplace but also keep your home safer. These 7 chimney tips and tricks will make sure your fireplace is in its best condition, keeping you warm all night. At Watson Brothers Chimney and Vent, we want you to get the most out of your fireplace.
How does a chimney work?
Before diving into the tips and tricks to help your chimney work better, let's go over what a chimney does and its important parts. The chimney contains over 25 different parts. To sum it all up, warm air rises out of the top of the chimney due to the stack effect. This helps prevent toxic gasses from entering your home. We tend to think of the fire in the fireplace as simple, but a chimney is crucial to how your fire may turn out. To make your fireplace most useful, Watson Brothers Chimney and Vent has provided you with a list of tips to improve your draw on your fire.
Tips to Improve Your Flame
1. Building the fire
When building a fire, there are simple ways to start off better. Make sure you clean all the ashes out first and beware they can remain hot for up to 3 days after the fire is out. The best way to start is by placing 2 medium-sized logs in the grate about half a foot apart. Next, put crumpled up newspaper between the 2 logs. You can add more firewood if you want, but a key step to a good fire is leaving room for ventilation. Finally, you light the newspaper on fire and watch your flame grow.
2. Choosing the correct wood
Selecting the correct wood for your fire is very important to its success. Wet wood does not catch fire. We recommend wood with a moisture content of 20% or lower. A moisture meter is a tool that can be used to check the moisture of a log. These can range in price from $15-100. You can also eye if the wood is wet or not by the color. If your wood is kept outside, make sure it’s not moldy, rotten, green, or has paint on it. Dry wood is brown and wet wood might have a greenish tint. The best type of wood to use is oak, birch, beech, and wood from any fruit tree.
3. Prime the flue
The flue is the vertical passageway that transfers the unwanted gas outside through the top of the chimney. Lighting a roll of newspaper or crushed paper and holding it near the damper will heat up and prime the flue. Warming up your flue and firebox will ensure your fire will catch quickly. This also helps to avoid making the house smoky.
4. Open air vents or windows
Opening your air vents also helps your fire stay big and warm. The hot air in the chimney must be replaced by the air from your home. Opening windows and air vents helps to replace the air that was lost and improve the fire overall due to an increased oxygen level. In newer homes, less air makes its way to the fire naturally because everything is sealed tighter.
5. Leave glass doors open
Leaving the glass doors of your fireplace open also helps increase oxygen flow. This helps heat up the chimney and fireplace temperature before lighting the fire. Leaving the glass door open also prevents air loss when the fireplace is not being used. Keep in mind, when hot air rises, cold air sinks.
6. Fireplace grate
A fireplace grate can help improve your fire in multiple ways. A grate lifts the fire off the bottom of the fireplace. This helps improve the draw as soon as there is a fire in the fireplace. There is also more air getting to the fire which will make it bigger.
7. Have your chimney swept
The last and most important tip is getting your chimney cleaned out. Your chimney should be swept at least once a year- ideally before the time of year you plan on using it most. For most people, this is before winter. Creosote is the name of the tar-like substance that could build up if your chimney is not cleaned properly. When creosote builds up, the diameter is reduced and there is an increased ability for the chimney to remove toxic gasses from your home.