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Build your fire from the top down for better efficiency

If you’re looking to create a hotter, more efficient fire that produces less smoke and requires less maintenance, forget everything you’ve ever learned about building a fire. Most people learn to build fires in the “log cabin” or “teepee” style, putting the kindling on the bottom and adding progressively larger logs on top. If you want a hotter, cleaner fire, however, you should be building your fire from the top down.

A top-down fire is a simple inversion of the traditional fire-building method, but it produces a superior result. There are three easy steps for building the ideal top-down burn:

Build your fire from the top down for better efficiency - New Haven CT - Total Chimney Care

  • Place your largest hardwood logs in one layer on the bottom with the cut ends at the front and back of your fireplace or woodstove. Putting your logs in the fireplace front to back, rather than side to side, allows the air to mix better with your fire’s fuel.
  • Stack on smaller pieces of wood on top. Create four to five additional rows of smaller pieces of firewood on top of your larger base row. If you burn some soft woods, they are ideal for stacking in this middle row of wood. Stack the wood until it is about half way up your firebox or woodstove.
  • Top with kindling. Put your kindling on top of the rest of your wood stack, filling the rest of your fireplace. Do not stack wood taller than the fireplace opening. If you choose, you can place tightly rolled pieces of newspaper on top of your kindling. Your kindling or newspaper should be thin enough to light with one match.

    Your fire is now ready to light! Once you ignite the newspaper or kindling, your burn will progress from the top down. This method provides less smoke, and it means that your fire will not collapse in on itself as it burns, as it does when you build a traditional fire, with the heavier logs on top. Once the fire is burning, you won’t have to reload it or stoke it for up to two hours!

    While a top-down burn is a convenient way to light a fire, it’s also cleaner for your home and your fireplace. When your fire burns hotter ad produces less smoke, it means you’re releasing fewer particles into your home and into your chimney. That reduces the rate at which dangerous creosote will build up in your chimney.

    And remember, whether you’re building your fire in the traditional “log cabin” style or experimenting with the top-down method, using the right fuel is key! Burn only seasoned wood that has been dried for six months. Wet wood will produce more smoke and will produce less heating, reducing the efficiency or your fireplace or woodstove and leading to a quick buildup of dangerous creosote in your chimney!

By Steve Sobczak on December 12th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Gas or Wood Burning Logs?

Converting a Wood Burning Fireplace to Gas Logs: Advantages and Disadvantages

Ever since gas logs became an option in the average home, homeowners have debated whether or not this is really a better option than their wood burning fireplaces. There are many important things to take into consideration before making this important decision. There are advantages and disadvantages to each but in the end, it is a matter of preference and a choice that each homeowner needs to make for themselves.

The most obvious advantage of a fireplace with gas logs is that it is extremely convenient. The fireplaces simply need to be turned on and it is possible to have a roaring fire in just moments. Some models require people to reach in and turn a knob, while others create a fire with the push of a remote control button. As soon as the family wants a fire, they can have one and do not have to wait for logs to catch and for the fire to really get going.

Photo of: gas fireplace

Gas logs are a click away from heating the room.

Another reason that many people enjoy a gas burning fireplace is that they no longer need to deal with the mess of burning logs. This includes the need to purchase or gather firewood as well as the need to season it well in advance. In addition, a fireplace with gas logs does not create any ash that needs to be cleaned out after each fire. This makes day to day maintenance of the fireplace much easier than when it burns real, wooden logs.

In addition to being convenient and easy to use, fireplaces with gas logs do a much better job of heating the home than their traditional counterparts. They create a great deal of heat, which spreads throughout much of the home. This can help reduce the energy bill because it is not necessary to run the heat as often during the cold months. However, it is important to keep in mind that most models are not capable of heating the entire home.

A fireplace with gas logs will not create the same smell as a wood burning fireplace. For some people, this may be an advantage, especially if they are very sensitive to the smell of smoke. However, for some people, the smell of a fire burning is extremely nostalgic and one of the things they most look forward to when the weather turns cool. Those who are emotionally invested in the sound and smell of a traditional fire should consider this before installing gas logs.

Homeowners should not install fireplaces with gas logs if they think it will reduce the amount of annual maintenance on their fireplace. Regardless of the type of logs in the fireplace, it is important to have an annual inspection. This will help ensure that the fireplace is in safe, working order and that there are no potential problems on the horizon. The chimney and fireplace should still be checked out by a licensed chimney sweep at the beginning of every cold weather season.

There are many advantages to a fireplace with gas logs but there are also many reasons that people choose to keep their wood burning fireplaces. A gas fireplace is much more convenient but it lacks the traditional smell and sounds that many people have come to associate with a cozy winter night at home. Before making a decision, be sure to consider all of the options and to keep up with regular fireplace maintenance.

By Steve Sobczak on August 9th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment