What is the correct way to start a fire? We’ll give you step-by-step instructions help you troubleshoot your wood burning fireplace.
1. What is the correct way to start a fire?
a) You will need small pieces of dry wood (kindling) and paper. Use only newspaper or paper that has not been coated or had unknown materials glued or applied to it. Never use coated (typically advertising flyers) or colored paper.
b) Open the door of the wood stove.
c) Crumple several pieces of paper and place them in the center of the firebox and directly on to the fire bricks of the wood stove (see product information supplied with your stove). Never use a grate to elevate the fire.
d) Place small pieces of dry wood (kindling) over the paper in a “teepee” manner. This allows for good air circulation, which is critical for good combustion.
e) Light the crumpled paper in 2 or 3 locations. Note: It is important to heat the air in the stovepipe for draft to start.
f) Fully open the air control of the wood stove (see product information supplied with your stove) and close the door until it is slightly open, allowing for much needed air to be introduced into the firebox. Never leave the door fully open as sparks from the kindling may occur, causing injury. As the fire begins to burn the kindling, some additional kindling may be needed to sustain the fire. DO NOT add more paper after the fire has started.
g) Once the kindling has started to burn, start by adding some of your smaller pieces of seasoned (dry) firewood. Note: Adding large pieces at the early stages will only serve to smother the fire. Continue adding small pieces of seasoned (dry) firewood, keeping the door slightly open until each piece starts to ignite. Remember to always open the door slowly between placing wood into the fire.
h) Once the wood has started to ignite and the smoke has reduced, close the wood stove door fully. The reduction of smoke is a good indication that the draft in the chimney has started and good combustionis now possible. Larger pieces of seasoned (dry) firewood can now be added when there is sufficient space in the firebox. Adjust the air control setting to desired setting (see product information supplied with your stove).
i) Note: The lower the air control setting, the longer the burn time of your firewood.
2. What type of wood is best to use as firewood?
Dry seasoned hardwood should be used. Avoid green unseasoned wood. Green wood, besides burning at only 60% of the fuel value of dry seasoned wood, will deposit creosote on the inside of your stove and along the inside of your chimney.
3. What does dry seasoned wood mean and what is considered hardwood?
Wood that has been dried for a period of one year in a well-ventilated and sheltered area would be considered dry seasoned wood. Hardwoods are generally from slow growth trees (example: Oak and Fir). Softwoods are generally from fast growth trees (example: Pine and Spruce).
4. Will following the above-listed steps for starting a fire result in perfect results all the time?
The quick answer is most of the time. There are many variables that may affect your success rate when starting a fire. Most of those variables and how to deal with them will be learned through experience. Your ability to start a good fire will significantly increase with time and patience. Some of the reasons for poor stove performance will be covered in the next section of these instructions.
5. Why can’t I get the fire lit?
Damp or wet wood and poor draft are the main reasons for poor results in starting a fire. Always use dry seasoned wood for your fire. Even wood dried for two years will be difficult to ignite, if it has become wet.
6. Why is there always a large quantity of thick black smoke present in the firebox?
A large quantity of thick black smoke in the firebox is a good indication that the draft is poor.
7. Is it normal for soot to cover the glass at the beginning of a fire?
Your stove has been built with an air wash system that will help keep the glass clear when the fire box has reached a good operating temperature and has a good draft. Cold firebox temperature and poor draft cause sooting of the glass. Once the firebox temperature and the draft increase, the soot will burn off.
8. What is draft?
Draft is the ability of the chimney to exhaust or draw by-products produced during the normal combustion process.
9. What can cause a poor draft?
The most common factors for poor draft are:
a) Atmospheric pressure and air supply
b) Environmental conditions
c) Cold chimney temperature
d) Poor chimney installation and maintenance
a) Atmospheric Pressure and Air Supply
Atmospheric pressure affecting the draft from a chimney can be either outside the home, inside the home, or both. Outside the home, a high-pressure day (clear and cool) generally creates a better draft in the chimney than a low-pressure day (overcast and damp). Inside the home, normal household appliances, such as clothes dryers and forced-air furnaces compete for air resulting in inadequate amounts of air available to fuel a fire and create a condition known as negative pressure. Under extreme conditions of negative pressure, the combustion by-products can be drawn from the chimney and into the house. This condition is commonly referred to as down-drafting.There are several factors that impact the amount of air available in the home. Increased amounts of insulation vinyl windows, extra caulking in various places and door seals can all keep heat in but may also make a home too airtight. If you are in doubt about whether or not there is sufficient air in your home for your stove, curtail from using those appliances known to consume the air where possible, or open a window or door to allow air to enter the home.
b) Environmental Conditions
High trees, low lying house location such as in a valley, tall buildings or structures surrounding your house and windy conditions can cause pool draft or down drafting.
c) Cold Chimney Temperature
Avoid cold chimney temperatures by burning a hot fire for the first fifteen to forty minutes, being careful not to over fire. If any part of the chimney or parts of the stove start to glow, you are over-firing the stove. Where possible, install a temperature gauge on the chimney so temperature drops can be seen.
d) Chimney Installation and Maintenance
Avoid using too many elbows or long horizontal runs. If in doubt, contact a chimney expert and/or chimney manufacturer for help. Clean chimney, rain caps and especially spark arrester regularly, to prevent creosote build-up, which will significantly reduce chimney draw and possibly a chimney fire.
10. Should I close or open the air control fully when shutting down the stove?
When shutting down the stove, fully open the air control. This allows the chimney temperatures to remain as high as possible for as long as possible. Cold chimney temperatures create creosote.
Note: This sheet is intended as an aid and does not super cede any local, provincial or state requirements. Check with officials or authorities having jurisdiction in your area.