Tips For Using Your Fireplace

Here are some guidelines on how to minimize safety issues and smoking problems, and have an enjoyable fireplace experience.

bullet Open your damper. If necessary, shine a flashlight up inside your fireplace to make sure the damper is fully open.
bullet Clear the area around the fireplace opening. Remove any combustible material including your firewood away from the front of the fireplace.
bullet Place your fire grate as far back in the fireplace as possible. This reduces the possibility of a smoking problem and the heated backwall reflects more heat into the room.

Ingredients For Your Fire...

bullet Tinder. If you have a log lighter, definitely use it. If not, use fire starters, fatwood, crumpled newspaper and small twigs.
bullet Kindling. Large twigs, small branches and small splits of wood that are roughly ΒΌ" to 1" in thickness.
bullet Fuel. Use well seasoned hard and/or softwood that is split, dry and stacked away from the house for up to a year.

Starting the Fire

bullet Arrange 2 small pieces of firewood on the fire grate with some tinder between the logs.
bullet Cover the tinder with a generous amount of kindling wood.
bullet Place 1 to 2 more small pieces of firewood on top of the kindling, and two more at right angles with an air space in between for air circulation.
bullet Light the tinder and enjoy your fire!
Science of Combustion
What exactly makes a fire burn?   Why is it possible to build a roaring fire one time and one that barely stays lit the next?   Fire is a chemical reaction in which heat energy is produced. When fossil fuels burn, they combine with oxygen to produce heat.;   Keep reading as we delve deeper into the hot details of combustion.

So, What Exactly Is Combustion Anyway?

com-bus-tion \kem-'bes-chen\ n.
1. The process of burning something.

Combustion takes place when a fuel reacts with oxygen in the air to produce heat.   The heat created by the burning of the fuel is used in the operation of equipment such as boilers and furnaces.   Along with heat, carbon dioxide and water are created as byproducts of the exothermic (heat-releasing)) reaction.

Now, How Can I Make Something Combust?

Three things are required in proper combustion before ignition and combustion can occur: heat, oxygen, and fuel.   This is often referred to as the fire triangle.   There must be fuel to burn, air to supply oxygen, and heat to start and continue the combustion process.   With continuous supply of heat (which is a product of the combustion process itself), the ignition of additional fuel will continue as long as there is sufficient oxygen present.   If any of the three sides of the fire triangle is removed, the fire will cease to burn.
The Fire Triangle

What Does This Mean For Me And My Home?

Burning Fuel In The Most Efficient Way
The objective of combustion is to retrieve energy from the burning fuel in the most efficient way possible.   To maximize combustion efficiency, it is necessary to burn all fuel material with the least amount of losses.   The more efficiently fuels are burned and energy is gathered, the cheaper the combustion process becomes.   There must be enough air in the combustion chamber for combustion to occur.   The addition of excess air greatly lowers the formation of carbon monoxide (CO).   The less CO remaining in the flue gas, the closer to complete combustion the reaction becomes because the CO still contains a significant amount of energy that can and should be completely burned.


Having a solid grasp on the combustion process will enable homeowners to get the most bang for their heating buck.   This will also cut back on the amount of creosote and other chemicals that are allowed to build up on the inside of your chimney.   You'll still need to have your chimney cleaned and inspected on a regular basis by a professional chimney sweep, however, since even a small amount of these substances is enough to cause a dangerous and potentially deadly fire in your chimney.

* Still having smoking problems?   Please visit our Smoking Problems Page.

Please, Always Make Sure To Have Your Chimney Inspected
And Swept Before Using Your Fireplace!

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(Source: CSIA

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