Problems Building a Fire in a Fireplace or a Wood Stove

Common problems with building a fire in a fireplace, typically have to do with the damper or the flue. A fire needs oxygen or it will not burn. If you’re having a problem getting your fire going, check the damper and make sure it is completely open. If the damper is open and you’re still having a problem, check the flue and make sure it’s not stopped up.

Years ago when the kids were little, we bought a little place out of town on a dead end dirt road. The only source of heat was a fireplace. At the time, I didn’t know much about fireplaces, but I learned fast. I HAD to. We had seven kids and as I said, the fireplace was the only source of heat. But if you don’t know much about operating a fireplace you can burn the house down.

Our neighbors were few and far between but the closest one offered to help us understand the proper way to operate the fireplace. The first thing he told us was to always keep an eye on the flue because if you start a fire in the fireplace that has a stopped up flue, it can catch fire. And as old as that house was, it would’ve gone up like paper.

I was afraid to use it when he told us that, but he assured us that if the flue became clogged, we’d know it because the house would start filling up with smoke. Then all we’d have to do was put the fire out. So I never burned the fireplace at night while we slept.

In order to get a good fire going in a fireplace, you have to have the right burning material which includes kindling, paper, and logs. The method that always worked for me was to place lightly crunched paper around, and then drop some kindling on top of it and light the paper beneath the kindling. Once the kindling gets going, put a small piece of wood (log) or larger pieces of kindling on it ( that’s what I did ) and once that catches, put a bigger log on top of that.

Good burning logs must be dry to catch well. The dryer the log, the less smoke you’ll get from it when it burns. Greener wood will burn, but it won’t burn as well and can produce a lot more smoke. I know this because we ran out of firewood one winter and had to go into the woods after more. It was towards the end of winter though and we only used it a couple of times. It burned okay, but it sparked a lot and didn’t burn as well.

In conclusion, you can buy fire logs just about anywhere today and don’t have to store up wood for the winter if you have the money to burn or don’t have access to your own wood. You can even have it delivered to you. There are even places you can get it for free, but usually you have to haul it off. We had five-plus acres of thick woods and would start storing firewood and kindling for winter in early summer.

One of my fondest memories was when a winter storm knocked the power out and I read to the kids from the bible in front of the fireplace. It gave me the perfect opportunity to talk to my kids about the Lord Jesus and salvation. Once they realized that Jesus was the door to heaven, they all wanted to be baptized.

However, later that evening, we ran out of firewood in the house. My husband and our oldest son began pulling on their coats to go to the shed for more wood when the power came back on. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but I had tried a number of times to talk to my kids about the Savior and each time it seemed to fall on deaf ears. I believe everything happens for a reason.

I miss that old fireplace.

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