I don’t know about you, but this gloomy weather has many of our editors ready to go into hibernation (the rest are still bright and cheery from their encounter with Color Splash superstar David Bromstad).
January may leave your home feeling a little cold and empty, so what better way to add warmth to your home than by lighting a beautiful fire?
If your fireplace has gone untouched this season, never fear. As long as you’re prepared, starting your own fire is just one flick of a match away.
Clean up. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never used your fireplace or if you’ve been parked in front of your mantel since November – move anything sitting in front of the mantel and wipe down the doors and surround with a damp paper towel. Remove any excess piles of ash from the fireplace, but leaving about 1/2 inch to create a base.
Open the damper. A damper is a valve that keeps warm air in your home when the fireplace isn’t in use by sealing off the chimney and blocking airflow. When you have a fire going, it allows smoke to escape through the chimney. On most modern fireplaces, you can find the damper level centered at the top of the fireplace. Usually if the damper is slid to the left that means it’s closed, but check your specific model to be sure.
Check for a draft. Light a match inside of your fireplace, then quickly blow it out. The smoke should rise up toward the chimney. You should never try and start a fire if there is a downward draft. Open the doors to your fireplace, crack open a nearby window and wait 10 -15 minutes for air to circulate.
Place tinder, kindling and wood. A well-balanced wood pile will create a calm, even fire. You can use strips of crumpled newspaper, straw, dry twigs or other light, dry materials for your base. Then stack your kindling (lighter pieces of wood like pallets make good kindling) flat and horizontally, crisscrossing each layer and leaving gaps for air to pass through. Finally, stack a log or two on top.
Get a fire starter. You can make your own, buy them in stores or use balled up newspaper. Place the fire starter in the middle of your stack at the bottom and then light it.
If you’ve done everything properly, you should soon have a roaring fire! Poke the fire every 30 minutes or so to push air into the wood pile.
Remember, never leave a fire unattended: it could take up to three hours for a fire to die down, and even then the wood and embers will still be extremely hot. Wait a day, then move the ashes to a metal bucket outside and let cool for another day before disposing.
Have you spent a night curled up in front of the fireplace this season? Visit the links below for fire safety tips, mantel and fireplace decorating, and living room makeover inspiration:
Home Survival Skills: Check Your Smoke Detector
Weekday Crafternoon: How to Make Pinecone Fire Starters
DIY Eucalyptus-Pine Firestarters
HGTV Marketplace: Fire Glass
10 Ultramodern Fireplaces
Beautiful Outdoor Fireplaces and Fire Pits
Winter Mantel Decorating
Living Room Style Guide
Top Living Room Colors