Few winter delights beat the crackling sound and soothing aromas of a wood-burning fire. As you prepare for the upcoming holidays, make sure your fireplace and your fire-building skills are ready in time for cozy gatherings.
Have a chimney sweep company check your chimney for birds’ nests and other debris that could block smoke from properly venting outside. The sweep will also remove creosote from the chimney walls and test your damper to make sure it opens and closes easily.
Use only dried, aged logs or commercial logs appropriate for indoor use. Green, wet or soft woods produce more smoke and soot, so stick to hardwoods like oak and hickory. Never burn clothing, crates, boxes, or painted wood items that may have chemical finishes that produce unwanted gases.
Find a convenient dry place to store wood outside. Watch out for small critters and insects that can hitch rides on logs and settle in your home.
Open the damper before building any fire and keep it open until the fire has gone completely out. Smaller logs burn faster, so start with a small fire using kindling or a starter log. Add larger logs as the fire catches, leaving space between the logs for air to circulate. Never leave a fire unattended.
Ashes don’t smell nearly as good as the aromas of burning wood, so be sure to clean out the ashes before you use the fireplace again. Leave a small bed of ash to cushion embers as they fall from burning logs.