How to Build a Fireplace Fire | Ask This Old House


so we got a call from Thomas

anytime anybody calls in and says they

have a problem with the draft the first

thing I do go to the house and I look at

this back wall back here what are you

looking at so you can see how this

particular area the suit is all burnt

off all right so the clear color stone

yeah no soot set up atop was its value

so that tells me that the fireplace is

operating correctly because most of the

heat is supposed to be down here that's

why you have that burn the way you do in

that area so I know this fireplace is

working great so much heat that is

actually burning to sit off that's right

okay and we'd like to heat obviously

because that's creating the hot air

which is we hope will go up the chimney

that's right so basic principle of

physics hot air goes up behind this

stone we have a couple components that

we build a smoke shelf smoke chamber we

make that into like a cone that meets at

the bottom of the flue and that's where

the smoke goes up and out of the house

once we have a proper draught we know

the fireplace is working well

so if someone still has this hue back

here that we see but they still have

smoke coming back we know that they've

probably built the fire incorrectly so

you're thinking maybe technique all

right well let's see your technique for

build all right fire so the first thing

we're gonna do is add newspaper all I'm

gonna do is crumpled it up loosely stuff

it under the grate I'm not going to

worry about putting too much paper in

because it's just going to burn but I do

want to leave enough room for the flames

to catch

second thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna

get my biggest logs and I'm gonna lay

them the long way and the great like

this I'm gonna leave a space in between

the logs just so the flame can bump up

now I'm gonna take my medium logs and

just crisscross the big logs like this

again I'm gonna leave a gap in between

the firewood and the last thing I'm

gonna do is take my kindling which I get

in the backyard as well and I'm just

gonna throw it on top of my second layer

of firewood just like this so most

people are probably putting a kinder

down low so what I find is when you put

the kindling down low which is what most

people do you light the newspaper and

the newspaper flame can't get up through

that kindling

so that's when it gets stuffed and the

smoke starts to emanate into the room so

what I want to do before I light the

fire is I want to prime the flue you can

see it's already starting to pull smoke


it's a priming it meaning you're trying

to get a little bit of heat moving

through that chimney that's right and

that's gonna let everything else go the

same way mm-hmm so I'm just late for

that I'll go about half way and once I'm

at about this point all I'm gonna do is

dip down to my newspaper kind of ignite


and then I'll just put that on top but

you can see the flames being pulled up

that's because we primed the flue not

just pulled up but you can see actually

the flames coming off the paper going

right between the big ones right right

between the medium ones and you hear

that crackle that means we're getting

some effect on the kindling I can feel

the heat out here but no smoke yeah all

right and you've got sort of a very tall

upright flame telling you that's airflow

so that's air flow and again that means

all my mechanics inside were built

properly because the flue is lined up

directly with the center of our

fireplace and as you can see that flame

is being pulled right into the center so

and another thing we should add is that

hardwood seasoned wood is always the

best to use you know some people you

don't ever want to use pine pine can

create some of that creosote that

everybody is so afraid of all right I

think you proved your point mark we got

about a half hour into this fire I got a

good burn no smoke in the room no smoke

and we were actually able to add a

couple logs so if you use this method of

lighting a fire nine times out of 10

you're going to be great if you do have

that oddity where the smoke comes back

into the room you probably have some

kind of blockage or maybe the chimney

isn't built high enough so might be time

to call the local mason at that time

good information

thanks for the fire all right thanks

Kevin thanks for watching this whole

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