January 09, 2020 at 10:33am | Blair Schwisow
If your Boise house has a working fireplace, but you’re less than adept at the fine points of dealing
with it, there are a few basics that veteran fire builders observe without fail. Especially if you like to keep
the household temperature on the crisp side, there’s nothing like a crackling fire to take the chill out of the
air without overheating the place. Here are five valuable pointers:

1. Have the chimney inspected. The National Fire Protection Association recommends a
yearly check-over by a licensed Boise inspector. For sure, if yours gets frequent use, that’s
appropriate. If a sweep is called for, hold off on that first fire of the year until it’s completed.

2. Gather your wood. Dense hardwood (oak, hard (sugar) maple and birch) logs burn at a
temperature that produces coals that radiate heat for a long time. Pine, tamarack, spruce, or
cedar are softer woods that burn hotter—but for a shorter time. They are especially handy for
kindling when you’re getting the fire started. There are conflicting opinions about whether
softwoods result in greater creosote buildup in the chimney, but no controversy about the
value of “seasoning.” Seasoned wood (aged for at least six months) makes for less smoke
—and less soot and creosote.

3. Build your fire. One way is to wad up newspaper below the grate, crisscrossing narrow,
finely split wood (or commercially available fatwood) on the grate, then three smallish
seasoned logs on top.

4. Prime the flue. Prevent smoke backup by preheating the cold chimney a bit. Light a tightly
rolled sheet of newspaper and wave it gently under the damper. In a minute, the flame will
generate enough heat to draw the smoke up and out. Now you’re ready to light the wad of
newspaper beneath the grate.

5. Keep it going. Fire is stoked by air movement, so keep things going by creative structuring
of the gaps between logs. The narrower the gap, the greater the air velocity that feeds the

A working fireplace adds value to any Boise house. Call me to chat about maximizing your Boise
house’s market appeal!



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