How To Properly Use A Fireplace (Step-By-Step)

Dominic Mitton
By Dominic  • Reviewed by Ben  • Updated:   October 19, 2023
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When the weather gets colder, there isn’t any bigger comfort than laying on the couch and watching the sparks inside of your fireplace.

However, you deserve to know the best way to use a fireplace to ensure long-lasting fire without compromising your safety.

Just follow all the steps carefully and you should have the best fire in no time.

6 IMPORTANT Steps To Follow When Using A Fireplace

Step 1: Pile up the kindling

Place a pile of kindling into a fireplace, grabbing different sizes including small and large kindling.

Before you even gather it, you must make sure the wood is seasoned or kiln-dried. The last thing you want is wet wood which won’t heat up your home, it will only produce more smoke.

Seasoned wood is easier to find as kiln-dried wood can be expensive and not the best budget-friendly option.

You can easily spot a perfectly dried wood:

  • You can remove peeling easily
  • It’s light brown color instead of looking “fresh” and green
  • It has spitting ends

Another thing to pay attention to is to use softwood or hardwood logs. I’m personally a fan of softwood, but you can go with either option.

Step 2: Open The Damper

The damper is responsible for transferring ash and smoke outside of your home.

When it’s not opened and positioned properly, it will circulate the smoke back to your home.

There should be a small handle inside of your chimney that you need to adjust to fully open the damper.

If you’re not sure if the damper is opened, stick your head inside the flue and look up.

Step 3: Preheat the flue

You need to preheat the flue before starting a fire.

You’re doing this because you don’t want the smoke to go all over your house.

Grab some old newspaper or magazine and light it up. Hold it while the damper is opened to spread the warm air through the flue.

After a couple of minutes, your wood-burning fireplace should be ready to spark the kindling.

Step 4: Build the fire

There are a ton of different methods of building a fire, but the two most popular are the traditional method and the top-down method.

The traditional method requires newspaper at the base of the fireplace and then adding kindling and legs on top of it.

If you’re using a grate inside of your fireplace, I recommend putting newspaper underneath it.

Now, position the kindlings first, and then add logs at the top of it. Make sure everything is stable.

The top-down method starts the fire faster and allows it to last longer. It has become so popular nowadays, that all of my friends (including me) are using it.

Grab your logs and put them in a linear row at the bottom.

Place more logs (smaller ones) on top of the previous logs and make sure they are in the opposite direction – horizontal.

Then you place kindling and newspaper on the top while making sure that the newspaper won’t fall off as soon as the fire starts.

Make sure to clean the brick fireplace as it can affect the quality of the fire.

Step 5: Start The Fire

When lighting a fire, you need to light the “fire-starter” first – that’s always newspapers.

So, depending on the method you choose, you might start the fire from the top or from the bottom.

My recommendation is to use long-neck lighters as they’re much safer and you can reach the front and back of the newspaper to start the fire immediately.

After you start the fire, it still isn’t enough. You must make sure that the fire doesn’t stop.

Step 6: Keep The Fire

You should add more logs so the fire can spread properly and continue to heat your home.

Don’t worry if the log is “too big” as the temperature rises and it’s easy for those logs to start burning.

My advice is to use hardwood logs for keeping the fire as it’s more durable.

Also, an often mistake is that people start adding “wet” wood thinking it won’t do any harm. In fact, you will decrease your burn effectiveness and have a shorter burning fire.

Safety Tips When Using A Fireplace

Fireplaces can do a lot of damage to your home if not used properly. Don’t forget to complete the annual chimney inspection to always make sure everything goes smooth.

Here are additional safety tips to apply:

  • Place smoke detectors in all bedrooms to keep the home healthy and safe
  • Check that your carbon monoxide detectors are working properly
  • Always have two fire extinguishers in the home in case of unexpected fire spreading in the fireplace
  • Clean the ashes regularly with an ash vacuum cleaner, but leave a little bit of them to build the fire faster next time.
  • Use a fireplace screen to not allow anything to fall out of the fireplace
  • Never put anything flammable near the fireplace

All in all, using a fireplace isn’t a complicated process. I laid out the steps to properly use it and to maximize your burning time.

If you found the article helpful, please share it with your friends who also own a fireplace and let them enjoy a better fire.

Hey there! I am Benas, the founder and content editor at Home Caprice. Thanks for reading the article. I hope you were able to find what you were looking for. I and my team are here to simplify heating and cooling for everyone. Please have a look at the About page for more details about our website and feel free to check out our editorial process.