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Anyone out there have a fireplace?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Need some help. Figured I'd ask you guys. I have a fireplace in my house. I've only been here for two years. First year I didn't use it not once (mostly cause the whole concept of a fire INSIDE the house scared the crap out of me), last year my dad convinced me it was ok to use and started one for me on Christmas. I used it all the time after that, but cheating using those firelogs you buy. This year I have wood, but cannot for the life of me get a good fire started. From what I understand, the whole concept is to get a nice hot, red embered log going on the bottom first and that way whatever you put on top of it will burn. Well it's getting that first log going that I'm having trouble with. I've tried 3 times and all have been failures.
Can anyone give me tips on how to start a good fire? How do I set up the wood? What should I start with?
Thanks!
post #2 of 14
You could cheat and use the starter sticks - they are made from the same stuff as the firelogs, but are about 2"x2"x6" long.

The biggest thing for getting the fire started is making sure there is enough air circulation around the log(s) you are starting. The wood also has to be completely dry. If you have the choice, start with smaller pieces of wood and then add the big logs once it's going.
post #3 of 14
We also buy starter sticks for the fireplace we have at the cottage, but we build fires outside, and the best thing is to make sure that the wood is completely dry and as Heidi said, start with smaller pieces that will burn more easily and use these to set fire to the other bigger ones on top, but 'build' them at angles so they are not smothered by the newer logs
post #4 of 14
I've only helped my Grandpa, but he always uses some newspaper and small pieces to light first. He pokes them at random spots around the larger pieces and stuff.
post #5 of 14
I always use the starter sticks and small pieces of really dry wood for kindling.
The trick is to keep it hot with embers in the bottom---red ones.
You can also use old newspaper to build it up.
post #6 of 14
When was the last time you had your chimney checked and cleaned? It should be done once a year for sure otherwise you can end up filling your house with smoke and even carbon monoxide (a silent killer).

I've never had a fire place and not sure I'd even use one if I had one. I'm too freaked out about fire to burn one indoors. My brother has a gas fireplace. It's very pretty and gives off tons of heat and it's remote controlled. That I think I would use, but not a real wood and match type thing.

Anyway, if you haven't had your chimney cleaned in awhile, I'd suggest having that done before starting up a fire in your fireplace.
post #7 of 14
You can buy a CSL from the store to clean it out. We do that every year before we burn the first fire in it.
CSL ....chimmney sweeping log
post #8 of 14
First thing first: open the chute (pull the chain) before you start a fire.
I found this out when I was babysitting a long time ago. Apparently the smoke needs someplace to go

Anyways, yes, then pile your logs o' wood into the fireplace, place kindling (small pieces of wood) between the logs and then light those.

Pretty soon you'll have a nice blaze going.

Once you're a pro, start playing around with the wood. If you by logs from a Fruit tree, that'll add a little color to your fire, along with a sweet smell in the home.
You can also by light sticks. They're colored sticks that when thrown into a fire, they change the glow of the fire to whatever the color of the stick it. It's pretty cool to watch.

If all else fails, invest in a gas light fireplace. We have one in the house we're renting, so all we have to do is turn a nob and viola! Instant fire in the fireplace.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalie_ca View Post
Anyway, if you haven't had your chimney cleaned in awhile, I'd suggest having that done before starting up a fire in your fireplace.
She's right, and wood fires burn much hotter than firelogs, which is more dangerous with a dirty chimney.

Hey, firelogs aren't cheating! They burn cleaner and don't trigger my asthma like wood fires do. Our chimney sweep ("Fiddler on the Roof") says they keep our chimney very clean, too, and we have fires in the fireplace about three times a week all year 'round. (Yes it's cold here in the summer at night.)

Cheers, from
SwampWitch

p.s. Don't forget to shake the chimney sweep's hand for good luck (remember Mary Poppins?).
post #10 of 14
I have a wood stove that I use to supplement my electric heat in the cold months ... and I also use the starter sticks. With the wood stove, the ashes build up quickly and using paper to start a fire simply isn't an option.

I whole-heartedly agree with those who recommended having a professional come and inspect your fireplace and chimney before starting any fires there. It is especially important if you burn any kind of pine wood (which we do, but only sparingly).
post #11 of 14
I too have a used a wood stove for 19 year to supplement our electric heat. Neil gets on the roof every fall have drops the chimney brush (anchored with weights to scrub the walls plus we inspect for cracks etc.
Tips:
Never used green fire wood -it should be seasoned (dried) at least one year. The ends of the wood will have "checks" splits. If the wood is green you will hear it sizzle when burning!! Also the type of wood being burnt makes a difference. We log, split and stack all our wood but we burn whatever we cut. The best is oak maple or ash. We burn elm, poplar, willow too but a log burns really fast. Don't burn pine or wood scraps in a fireplace.
We start ours my stacking small twigs/woodworking scraps (we have a stove which is a bit different) dry bark and pinecones work well to. The thing we use to start is a propane torch-probably not the best thing to use but the fire starts fast!!
post #12 of 14
I bought a house with a frieplace thinking I would never use it, and I love it!

I build a little pile of kindling with some starter pads Underneath the grate the logs are on. Starting out you don't want you logs to packed, just have three in a teepee, with some kindling under that too. AS things get going, you can hdlp it along with a baffle and just pushing things around, when that looks good you can put another log or two on.

I have a grate that is called a texas tommi? I forget, but it is a grate with an upper level to place another log on top. I got that because I heard it is easier to get a good fire, plus it throws the heat back into the room better.
I love it. Don't know if you can find it anywhere, I couldn't but then lucked out at a house sale, only 5 bucks.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalie_ca View Post
When was the last time you had your chimney checked and cleaned? It should be done once a year for sure otherwise you can end up filling your house with smoke and even carbon monoxide (a silent killer).

I've never had a fire place and not sure I'd even use one if I had one. I'm too freaked out about fire to burn one indoors. My brother has a gas fireplace. It's very pretty and gives off tons of heat and it's remote controlled. That I think I would use, but not a real wood and match type thing.

Anyway, if you haven't had your chimney cleaned in awhile, I'd suggest having that done before starting up a fire in your fireplace.
Ummmm.....it was 2 years ago, but I didn't use it the entire first year and only a couple of months last year - so should I have it done? or is it ok?
I'm with you on the whole fire indoors thing which is why it just sat there the first year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crittermom View Post
You can buy a CSL from the store to clean it out. We do that every year before we burn the first fire in it.
CSL ....chimmney sweeping log
What is CSL? You can buy that in the store? Does it really work?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lunasmom View Post
First thing first: open the chute (pull the chain) before you start a fire.
I found this out when I was babysitting a long time ago. Apparently the smoke needs someplace to go
Anyways, yes, then pile your logs o' wood into the fireplace, place kindling (small pieces of wood) between the logs and then light those.
Pretty soon you'll have a nice blaze going.
Once you're a pro, start playing around with the wood. If you by logs from a Fruit tree, that'll add a little color to your fire, along with a sweet smell in the home.
You can also by light sticks. They're colored sticks that when thrown into a fire, they change the glow of the fire to whatever the color of the stick it. It's pretty cool to watch.
If all else fails, invest in a gas light fireplace. We have one in the house we're renting, so all we have to do is turn a nob and viola! Instant fire in the fireplace.
I had no idea I could change the color or scent. Wow! Didn't know that. Thanks! (oh! and the whole "flue" thing - haven't done that one yet! )


Guess I have a lot to learn. I am getting that the whole concept is to build a nice hot red ember bed. Mostly done with either starter blocks, tabs, etc or paper and then kindling followed by the larger logs. I did do this last night and it ran for quite sometime and was doing pretty good. Problem I had last night was tons of smoke (YES the flue was open.) the smoke was rising up the chimmney, but it was still more than it should have been and the smell was a little much. I've heard that can be cause the wood isn't totally dry. Is that the case? or could it be the type of wood? or - again - did I do something stupid.
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by lisasha3 View Post
Ummmm.....it was 2 years ago, but I didn't use it the entire first year and only a couple of months last year - so should I have it done? or is it ok?
I would definitely have someone come in and inspect your chimney. It's your life we are talking about and it's better to be safe than sorry.
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