How to Start a Fire in a Cold Chimney

by | Chimney Draft Issues

Trying to start a fire when your chimney is filled with cold air can be a challenge. Once you get the fire lit, you end up with smoke blowing back into the room because all of that cold air sinking down the chimney. This once-seemingly simple task can end up causing a lot of frustration. Knowing how to prime your chimney can be a game-changer if you have cold chimney problems. Hudson Chimney would like to eliminate any frustrations you may have with igniting a fire by telling you how you can warm up your flue, along with a couple of other tips on starting and maintaining a good fire.

Priming your chimney

cold weather chimney - Jacksonville FL - Hudson Chimney

When the weather is cold outside, the air in your chimney can be just as chilly, especially if your chimney is built on the exterior of your house. Once you open the damper to prepare to get a fire started, that heavy cold air in the flue will sink down the chimney into your home and create difficulties in lighting a fire. The key to preventing this cold air sink is priming your chimney before attempting to light the fire. All you have to do is light a rolled-up newspaper and hold it like a torch up the damper for several minutes. You should be able to feel the draft reverse once enough warm air has mixed with the cold air. Once you feel this reversal, you should be ready to light a fire.

Insulating your firebox

Another way to help you start a fire with no problems is to insulate your firebox with a thin layer of ashes. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends leaving a one-inch layer of ashes on your firebox floor to protect and insulate the firebox, which makes it easier to build and maintain a good fire. If you are using your fireplace on a regular basis, you should be removing the ashes every week. Just remember to leave that thin layer of ashes when you do this task.

Building a top-down

To keep your fire burning, you should be using the top-down burn method when you build the fire. For this build, you start by placing the largest pieces of firewood on the bottom of the firebox. Next, take smaller pieces of wood and layer them on top of the larger pieces. At the very top of this stack, place a layer of kindling and wood shavings. You should be able to light the kindling with a single match. Not only does this build allow the fire to burn longer with less maintenance, but it also will burn cleaner because the smoke does not have to pass through cold firewood.

Want more wood burning tips? Contact us at Hudson Chimney to learn how to maximize your fireplace.