Safely Enjoying Fire in Your Home

Important dos and don’ts

  • Do check the manufacturer’s guidelines for your wood stove or insert.
  • Do use seasoned hardwood.
  • Do use commercial fire starters if you like. They eliminate the need for tinder and reduce the amount of kindling required.
  • Don’t use charcoal lighter fluid or other flammable liquids. These are extremely dangerous.
  • Don’t use coal in a wood stove or fireplace unless there are specific written instructions – it will burn, but not safely.
  • Don’t burn artificial logs in a wood stove, unless they are specifically designed for wood stove use. Artificial logs can dirty the chimney much faster than regular wood, and can be hazardous in certain situations.
  • Don’t burn treated lumber, trash, or anything other than wood in your fireplace or wood stove.

Smoke problems
Is your damper open? If it is and the smoking continues, open a nearby window a crack for a minute or two until the fire is going well – then you can close it again.

If it just smokes when you light the fire, it may be because the flue is cold. Did you warm the flue with a burning rolled-up newspaper held in the damper region? (If not, that usually works.)

If the chimney continues to smoke, contact The Chimney Doctor. Your chimney may be clogged by animal nets or an accumulation of soot and creosote, or it may have additional problems.

Chimney odors
The sour, sickly odor is the smell of creosote. The solution is to call The Chimney Doctor to clean your chimney and install a chimney cap to prevent water from entering and reacting with the creosote. The Chimney Doctor can also recommend a good chimney deodorant to handle any remaining odor which has been absorbed into the masonry.

Creosote buildup
Slow smoldering fires and/or the use of unseasoned wood can create “cool” smoke and weak draft. Under these conditions, the smoke condenses and sticks to the chimney’s interior, forming highly flammable creosote. A hot fire or an innocent, errant spark could ignite this substance into a roaring chimney fire – a terrifying disaster that kills hundreds annually and causes millions of dollars in property damage. Call the Chimney Doctor to have all stages of creosote buildup removed from your fireplace, wood burning stove, and chimney, allowing you and your family to enjoy the comforts of fire safely.

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