Check the batteries of your smoke detector—at least yearly—and have one or more on each floor. If you don’t have one already, get a couple of carbon monoxide detectors also installed.
Keep firewood dry, under cover and off the wet ground. Don’t burn damp wood as it produces smoke that can result in excess flammable creosote that gives you less heat than the dry firewood.
Burning papers, plastic, painted, treated wood and the like, can cause damage, pollution and corrode a chimney system.
To get more bang for your wood heating dollar and reduce the smoke that turns into flammable creosote, use a grate that fits the width of the firebox, with tines that are close together, so coals and burning wood don’t fall through.
Start fires in stages with kindling, up to 3”- 5” diameter size. Wait to load larger wood until the fire is quite hot with good coals. Without this high heat, more smoke producing flammable creosote will result due to a longer start up time.
Light a small section of newspaper holding it up just past the damper to check the draft and start heating the chimney flue getting the air inside to rise. This improves the draw and helps start smoke up the chimney faster.
If you have a gas igniter built in, use sparingly and only to get your kindling lit. Turn off after a few minutes to reduce the smoking and excess soot build up due to lower starting temperatures.
In modern, tight and well-insulated homes, by providing outside air opening a window or door a crack when starting a fire will help equalize and reverse negative air pressure, improve draft, and prevent smoke from backing up into your home.
When you keep at least 1” to 2” of ash on firebox floor, you’ll get a better draw, hotter fires and reduce creosote build-up due to the insulating and reflective quality of the ash. This also will help to prevent firebox damage in manufactured fireplaces.
Every time it rains, water goes down your chimney deteriorating mortar, firebricks, damper and other parts of your wood heating system. Getting a screened rain cap will prevent water from damaging the interior of your chimney system and keep critters out.
Glass enclosures will help to deter heat losses up the flue as they can be closed when a fire has just glowing coals, so you won’t have to wait until morning to close your damper. Remember most glass doors are not designed to be closed while fire is hot and can explode outwards.
Due to the wax, most store-bought logs will leave excessive soot up a chimney, accelerants, and additives. There are some manufactured logs though that are made with 100% wood by-products, and these are okay to burn.
Waterproofing exterior masonry chimneys every ten years or as needed will help stop expensive tuck pointing and rebuilding and help prevent smoke and water leakage.
Using the Chimney Sweep Log in your fireplace will not necessarily reduce any creosote build-up or make your wood burning system a safe one. If you do use one, then have the chimney inspected to ensure your safety.
Safe and Enjoyable Burning Season
Burning wood correctly and following these wood burning tips, can allow you to have a safer, enjoyable and more environmentally clean wood burning season.
Ahhh ... Cozy Heating Season
Inspecting or sweeping your wood heating system yearly, depending on usage, by an experienced, certified, licensed and insured chimney sweep, will ensure you a happy and safe wood heating season.