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Prepping your cold fireplace

When you light a fire in your fireplace, you expect the warm air and smoke to draft up the flue and out the top of the chimney. If your flue is cold, however, that cold air could come rushing down, forcing the smoke of your freshly lit fire back into your home. There are some simple measures you can take to prep your cold fireplace and keep the smoke flowing in the right direction.

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Why prepping your cold fireplace is important

Simple physics — the principle that hot air rises — keeps smoke flowing up and out of your chimney rather than back into your home. When your fireplace hasn’t been used, particularly if the chimney is located on an exterior wall, the flue fills with cold air. That cold air is heavier and denser than the warm air in your firebox, and it will block the warm air and smoke from exiting through the chimney. Prepping your flue for the fire will save you from smoke filling your home and have your chimney drafting properly.

How to prep your cold fireplace

The most common way to warm your flue is by holding lit cardboard or pieces of paper inside your firebox, directly under the flue until the draft reverses to flow properly up and out of the chimney. To do this, take four to five pieces of newspaper and roll them tightly to create “torches.” Light one of the torches and hold it under the flue. Continue this process, lighting more pieces of newspaper when needed, until you can see the smoke flowing up your chimney. If your wood-burning fireplace has a gas starter, you can light the starter without wood in the fireplace to warm the flue.

Additional fireplace preparation tips

There are several other ways to prep your fireplace for a successful fire. First, leave an ash bed of one to two inches in the base of your firebox. If you don’t have an ash bed from previous fires, you can use ashes from your grill. Build your fire toward the back of your firebox, with dry kindling placed on top off rolled newspapers and progressively larger pieces of wood on top. Make sure you are using dry, seasoned firewood to create a warm, crackling fire that will properly draft up and out of your flue.

If prepping your fireplace isn’t working

If your fireplace isn’t drafting properly even after you’ve prepped your cold fireplace by warming the flue and building a fire with dry, seasoned wood, there may be a larger issue with your chimney. If smoke regularly is finding its way back into your home, it is time to consult the professionals. For help solving your chimney’s drafting problems, call the experts at Chimney Saver Solutions. We can advise you on fire building techniques or help you to address any issues with your chimney.