Although we’ve had some lovely glimpses of spring recently in Indianapolis, those warm sunny days are still being followed up by some bitter cold stretches. One moment it will be 70º degrees and sunny, and then suddenly it will drop down to a frigid 30º chill. Just when you think spring has finally sprung, winter rears its head again.

The perfect remedy for these lingering chilly nights is gathering around a good, roaring fire. Here are four essential steps for starting a strong fireplace fire to keep you nice and warm.

Step 1: Prep Your Fireplace

First, you want to ensure that your fireplace and chimney are clean. It’s important to keep up with your regular fireplace maintenance and have your chimney swept and checked at least once a year. Soot and creosote build-up in your chimney’s flue system could block airflow and create a smokier fire. Worse, obstructions potentially lead to chimney/flue fires or carbon monoxide hazards. For more information on the importance of chimney sweeping read our previous blogpost: The 3 Why’s.

Then, you want to make sure that your damper is completely open (check for blockages) and prime the flue by warming up the air in your chimney. You need to ease the cold air out before lighting your fire, either by lighting the end of some rolled up newspaper and holding it up towards the damper or leaving the damper open for about half an hour to allow the warm air in the room to do the trick. Once you feel the flow of air reversing, you’re ready.

Step 2: Gather the Necessary Materials

Make sure you have everything necessary before you get started, namely: a screen, well-seasoned wood, kindling, paper and matches. It’s extremely important that all of your fuel is as dry as it can possibly be. It also might be helpful to arrange your wood and kindling by size so that you can build your fire more easily.

Step 3: Build and Light Your Fire

Recently we talked about the benefits of a top-down burn. A top-down burn helps create a more efficient fire while reducing the amount of smoke generated in the process, and we highly recommend trying out this method. Whichever method you use though, you should stack the logs and kindling so that there is space for air to get through the layers and fuel the flames.

Step 4: Nurse Your Fire

Building a strong fire requires care and attentiveness, especially at the beginning. You need to add more kindling and paper before that layer dies down until you are sure that the logs have caught fire. Even then, once you have a strong fire going, it’s important to add new logs when the others begin to sputter out and to poke the wood to keep air flowing. If you just pile on a lot of logs at once, there will be no room for airflow, and the fire will be stifled. Nurse your fire overtime so that you can enjoy a lasting blaze.

Start with these steps to make a strong fire that will warm you through this lingering winter. If you have any issues or questions, give us a call. Brick + Ember Outfitters is committed to the safety and functionality of your chimney and fireplace. We can set up an appointment for you to speak with one of our Outfitters who will address any of your concerns.