Wood Burning Fireplace - Outdoor and Indoor

All about wood burning fireplaces. Articles about fireplace parts and accesoires - fireplace inserts, chimney, mantels. Indoor and Outdoor patio fireplace designs.

How to Start a Wood Fireplace

Wood Burning FireplaceSeems like a simple thing...just put some wood in the fire, light a match and there she goes—NOT ! Anyone who regularly fires up their stove or fireplace knows there is much more to it than meets the eye.
I’m not the world’s best tennis player.. I can’t ski over those big bumps (moguls) and I’ve never run a marathon—but I do consider myself one of the world’s foremost experts on starting a fire. I was always a pyromaniac...loved those model rockets, fireworks and anything else that would blow up. I never thought any good would come out of my fascination with fire. Thus,

1. Make certain the chimney is drafting upwards. Many chimneys will reverse (cold air falls) when not in use. Open the damper of your fireplace and/or the door of your stove..if you feel a cold draft coming down then your chimney has reversed itself. Keep this in mind and follow step #4 below in order to reverse your chimney.

2. Set the Kindling. Yes, everyone does this differently. Here’s the best way. Place firestarters, fatwood or crumpled newspaper (3 or 4 sheets balled up fairly tightly) on the floor or grate of your stove. Place small kindling over the paper or starter...TIP --the more dry, small kindling you have--the easier and better your fire will start. Crisscross the kindling so there is plenty of air space in between each piece. Wood that is packed too tight will not burn properly.

3. Set more Wood. Set larger wood on top of the kindling, and continue to set larger and larger pieces on top until the stove is over 2/3 full. If it’s an open fireplace, set one or two layers of crisscrossed or spaced wood on top of the kindling.

4. Countdown - If you determined in step #1 that your chimney was drafting upwards, go ahead an light the newspaper or starter. If you think your chimney has reversed, do the following: If it’s an open fireplace, place a piece of balled up newspaper up through the damper..it should stay in place by itself. Light this piece of paper, and watch it --it should warm up the chimney and get sucked upwards.

5. Ignition - Assuming that you’ve lit the starter, stand back for a moment and watch the fire do it’s thing. If you have a stove, keep the draft control and damper fully open at first, in fact it may help to keep the stove door slightly open for the first few moments until the fire is caught.

Gardening Design

6. Blastoff - The fire should quickly catch and spread through your load of wood. Don’t make the mistake of closing your air control or damper soon after you start the fire. it may look good, but until you’ve warmed the stove up, warmed the chimney and established a good bed of coals (red embers), your fire is not really at critical mass.

7. Mission Accomplished - Keep the fire going..the subject of tending a fire in stoves and fireplaces will be addressed later in other documents, but keep these simple points in mind.
A. Always keep a “flame” on your fire - a smoking or smoldering fire is a cold and inefficient fire..and also produces pollutants and creosote (tar in the chimney)
B. Add more wood before the fire gets too low...this will assure the continuation of your hard-earned fire.
C. Use Dry, Seasoned wood - if your wood sizzles and refuses to light or burn it’s probably not ready for prime time --- store your wood in a dry place and cut and split it at least 8 months prior to burning.


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Cleaner Burning Fireplaces

The living rooms of many homes in the United States have attractive masonry fireplaces. Some people use them for added warmth (a secondary source of heat) on very cold days. Others burn wood in their fireplaces to create a cozy ambiance in the evening or on the weekend.Fireplase insert

Conventional masonry and factory-built fireplaces are not efficient at producing heat. These fireplaces are also the source of smoke, indoors and out. To reduce the health risks of smoke—for you, your family, and your neighbors, EPA recommends installing an EPA certified fireplace insert, a vented gas stove, or a pellet stove.

EPA certified fireplace inserts give you the same efficient performance as EPA certified woodstoves. A certified insert is similar to a freestanding woodstove, but it has been modified by the manufacturer to fit a fireplace opening A certified installer will make sure to add a flue liner in your masonry chimney. Lining the chimney helps maintain a proper draft and prevents icing, which can block the flow of air through the system.

If your fireplace is factory built (or "zero-clearance"), you must use an insert that was specifically designed and tested for your unit to make it more efficient and less polluting. You can ascertain the brand and model of your fireplace by checking the label, which is generally on the sidewall of the firebox. A certified chimney sweep or retailer of hearth products can help you do this.

Clean Your Chimney

EPA recommends that you have your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned each year to remove the creosote and keep it in good working order. The Chimney Safety Institute of America provides a list of certified Chimney Sweeps, searchable by state. In addition, Chimneys.com provides useful tips for fireplace operation and maintenance.

Cleaner Alternatives

Many open fireplaces are decorative in nature, designed more for aesthetics than efficiency. These days, fireplaces can burn natural gas (gas logs) or even propane. Some of the new electric models offer amazing realism. Gas models are available t hat have the same efficiency rating as central furnaces. These gas models have a broad range of heating capacities; some even offer ducting and heat circulation systems that make it possible to heat a substantial portion of your house.