Choosing Firewood and Inspecting the Fireplace

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,073
    Jerry Neal from Sugarlaof Chimney Restoration demonstrates how to build a fire in a fireplace including how to choose firewood and properly inspect the fireplace.

    Jerry Neal: Hi! I am Jerry Neal with Sugarlaof Chimney Restoration and today we are talking about how to build a fire in a fireplace. Before we start that first fire, let's take a look at the interior and exterior of the fireplace. You will notice that in this fireplace, it has a fire work floor and three metal sides. Is the fire brick in good condition? What does the motor joint look like in between the fire brick? Are the sides of the fire box in real warped from over firing? These are things you need to look for in this type of fireplace. What does the grate look like that's going to hold your logs? Well, it support the logs and keep them from rolling forward on the outer hearth. Keep the outer hearth free, or your newspapers and wood at least three feet away from the fireplace. Is there wood chips or debris close that could catch fire. Now, let's look at the exterior of the fireplace. We are looking to see whether it has a chimney cap, condition of the motor, whether it is mastery or metal and if there are trees or branches within 15 feet of the top of the chimney. These are all things that can affect the performance of your fireplace. Most of the fire places are constructed with clay tile flue liners to vent the flue gases from the fireplace. These work quite well as long as they are maintained and cleaned on an annual basis and the general rule of thumb is that you want to clean the chimney before a quarter of an inch should start accumulating in the chimney. If these clay tile liners experience a chimney fire, it can render them incapable from performing their intended function which is to protect the surrounding structures of the house from fire.

    Next, we are going to talk about choosing the right fire wood. Fire wood comes in two forms. You can buy them at the store with commercial fire starter and commercial fire logs or you can create your own kindling by splitting larger pieces of wood with an Axe and the small sizes that should you can use to easily start your fire with newspaper. How do you know if your wood is seasoned or not? Well seasoned wood takes six months to a year and an easy way to check whether or not your wood is seasoned or not is to look at the ends. Seasoned wood will crack and split. They call this check marks. All wood contains moisture. Well seasoned wood has a moisture content between 20% and 25%. Green firewood can be almost this half of its weight, it's water. In order to get the wood to burn, you have to heat it up and you have to get the water to burn off before the wood will burn. In storing your wood, you want to keep it up off the ground. I store my wood on old pallet so that it is off the ground and can't absorb water in from the bottom.

    I also cover the top and leave the sides open. On sunny days, I take the top off and I let it dry with the sun. There are certain items you don't want to burn in your fireplace. Certainly, your Christmas wrappings and Christmas trees are one of them. Also, excessive papery. You don't want to go get your 20 year supply of National Geographic and use it as a fire starter. A little newspaper or commercial fire starter lighting some kindling and then gradually adding bigger wood will give you a successful fire in your fireplace. Next, we will learn to lay the fire.

    Videos in this Series

    2