Is my fireplace safe?

It's so freaking cold. I have so much wood. I want to light a fire so bad, but it smelled like my house was burning the last time I lit a fire. Is it possible to burn my house down by lighting a safe fire in my own fireplace?

13 Answers

  • 8 months ago

    I am going to ASSUME  that the fireplace was built to code "at the time it was built."  Meaning within 200 years.

    . In most cases, people do not know how to build a fire.

    . If I am insulting you, SO BE IT.   I got no you tube video so go by my instructions written here and you will have heat.

    Crumple up dry newspapers into the size of a basketball,soccerball, football and stuff into the deepest back reaches of the fireplace.  Also make sure the damper is open.  this allow the smoke to go up the chimney when the fire is burning.  there should be an external button you pull out to open the damper.   When there is no fire, the damper is closed so cold air from outside does not travel down the chimney into the house.  It is a metal flap inside the chimney.  When in doubt of which way is closed move the lever half way in or out.  That way some smoke will get out so you do not get smoked out.

    It sounds like your damper was closed  If it is daytime you can see right up the chimney into the sky...when damper is open.

    When damper is open is when you can make a fire.

    You got lots of wood.  Good the first bunch of sticks are resting against your paper ball like a TeePee and the sticks are as thick as PENCILS....Long and dry split wood.  So you need an axe to split it up.  Maybe 50 of them and now over them you place thicker sticks like 2 fingers or 3 fingers thick and still like a TeePee.  Again about another 50. If they are 20 inches+ long that is GREAT.  From now on you are upsizing on the wood gradually.  If it is Fir, Pine, Spruce,(the pitch trees) that is good wood as the pitch burns hot like TAR.

      Damper is open and you need to open a window in the house say in the laundry room because it is far away so who cares if it gets cool in there right now.  Not me.  Open it about 1/2" so cold air comes into the house.

     .  Fire consumes air.   If it is an older style home they did not think of a feeder pipe to supply the air for the fireplace.  As house doors were opened and closed very often as people went through and houses were not air tight. so air would come in past the bottom of the door and past windows as they did not seal air tight.

    (.   The more we try to update our houses, the more we try to make them air tight.) Log cabins were really airy.  They had boards for windows.

    Don't worry about creosote.  Also do not worry  about birds nests or something like that blocking the chimney.   Smoke stinks and the chimney stinks and no creature wants to be in there.  They have clean trees to live in.

    Now you are set.  Light the paper-ball.    If you have a fire screen, use it and that keeps the sparks in the fireplace. and not on the carpet.

    If the wood was painted with oil paint, it don't matter, it burns and burns hot.   What you want is a hot fire, not a slowly burning one.  You need to make the chimney hot so that the air moves up the chimney direction ...sucking air from the window and up the chimney.  That circular path.  You want a raging fire...and that burns the creosote off the walls of the chimney basically the inside of the chimney catches on fire and it sounds like a rocket engine.  No damage.  Once the creosote is burnt off then the fire stops on the walls of the chimney.   It may or it may not burn off creosote because not enough of it is there to support combustion.  No worries.

    This is how all wood stoves should be started.  None of this "slow burning stuff."   Get the fire going hard "first".  That clears out the creosote...and soot.  Then if it is a stove that you can control the air volume, you reduce the air volume so it burns slower. so it lasts longer.  When you are burning slower you can almost close up the window in the laundry room or far bedroom or bathroom.  Maybe 1/8th" open while the fire still burns.  Now that it is really hot in the fireplace you can chuck in the stumps almost wood is a quiet burner.  Not much in the "snap, crackle, pop" department.  Do NOT TRY TO BURN  "Willow or Cedar" as these are mainly water trees.   No sap. Just water so they burn cold...if at all.  Just a wasted effort.  You can burn cedar shakes as they have been kiln dried but their BTU is low because they lack the saps or pitch.

    When the fire is 100 % out then you can close the windows tight. and close the damper.

    That will give you heat without the major smell of smoke.

    Which I suspect is what happened the last time you lit a fire. Also, as the air enters the house via window it is forcing the Carbon Monoxide up the chimney with the you do not get poisoned.

    Do it once or twice and you won't forget it.  Everybody is so paranoid about chimney cleaning and creosote.  Creosote happens because of the smoke build up on the walls of a cold chimney.  They start a small fire and then right away make it burn slowly.     That is the problem.  Never, ever was a problem before.

  • 8 months ago

    safe. You use that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Anonymous
    8 months ago

    Sweep the chimney. If you don't a chimney fire will burn your house down.

  • 8 months ago

    Yes, it's possible to burn down a house by lighting a fire in a fireplace. If that happens, then we know it wasn't a safe fire. We have no idea if your chimney is safe or not. Call a chimney sweep, who can clean and inspect the chimney and tell you what, if any, repairs are needed.

  • What do you think of the answers? You can sign in to give your opinion on the answer.
  • 8 months ago

    get a guy with a tophat to inspect the chimney up to the roof vent,,it may have birdy nests animal roosts,and debris clogging the pipe going up.

    , ought to be a draft you can feel going up that draws smoke up & out,

    if there is not draft,,double the chance there is blockage

  • 8 months ago

    It's absolutely possible. There could be a hole in your chimney that would start a fire in the wall. There could be creosote buildup which would cause a chimney fire. There could be other debris. Is the damper working properly? Get it professionally inspected before you have another fire.

  • 8 months ago

    1000's of homes are destroyed yearly by wood fires.........the safest are where the stove in in the yard and heat travels underground to the house

  • 8 months ago

    Wood create tar in the chimney that can cause a fire 

    If serious this can spread to the house.

    You should get it swept  after burning chimney cleaning logs to reduce the tar in the chimney even if the chimney has been lined.

     My advice, get it checked!

  • Murzy
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    Make sure your flue is open and hopefully your chimney is clean.

  • C
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    When was the last time your chimney was inspected and cleaned?  It's VERY possible to burn your house down with a cracked or choked chimney.  Fortunately if you live somewhere where chimneys are common getting it swept and inspected is not expensive.  If it's in good nick and clean you're good to go.  If the flue is not in good shape getting it lined isn't that expensive either.  Get some quotes today to have it swept and looked at and then you can stop wondering what if and get round to warming your toes in front of the fire safe in the knowledge that your chimney isn't plotting to kill you.

Still have questions? Get answers by asking now.