Most fireplace owners prefer burning fireplace wood (logs) as fuel. The use of coal or charcoal requires the building of a wood fire to ignite it, so most of the points given here will be of value regardless of which fuel you prefer.
WHAT TO BURN
Dry and seasoned hardwood makes the best fuel. Logs may be split or whole and should be from 16" to 22" in length. Soft woods burn away too quickly, and wet green wood will give a smoldering, unsatisfactory fire.
Don't burn scrap lumber or refuse. This sort of material is generally so dry that it produces a great many sparks which will escape up the flue and he a worry if not a real hazard to your neighbors and to you, if your home has a combustible roof.
TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
You should use either andirons, a bar grate, or a basket grate to hold the logs in the proper position. Andirons are usually chosen for decorative appearance, and some owners prefer a basket grate with andirons set in front of it for decoration.
Whether you burn wood, charcoal, or coal, you will need a pair of tongs, a small shovel, and a poker, since half the fun of owning a fireplace is in "tending" the fire A hearth broom is handy for brushing up stray ashes that spill out on the hearth extension. A wide variety of other gadgets are available, but are more ornamental than useful.
SETTING THE FIRE
Place your andirons about 12" to 16" apart, equidistant from the centerline of the hearth. Lay a fairly generous amount of crumpled or twisted newspaper on the hearth between the andirons, leaving a few convenient loose ends for igniting. Arrange a criss-cross of kindling sticks, such as pine, on top of the paper
Now set the longest and thickest of the logs (4" or 5" diameter) across the andirons toward the back of the fire chamber —not tight against the back . . leave about a half-inch space. Place a second piece, preferably a split log. a few inches in front, then another split log on top so as to form a sort of crude pyramid.
The friendly home hearth
One of the questions most often asked b nearly everyone who plans to build home is: "Should I have a fireplace1? Well, there's no cut-and-dried answer Different people place different value on fireplace utility and appeal. However one intangible quality that weighs heavily in its favor is the friendliness of fireplace.
STARTING THE BLAZE
Before lighting the kindling, lay about a half-sheet of newspaper on top of the logs and set fire to it. This warms up the flue and establishes a draft. While this piece is still burning, light the loose ends of the kindling paper. Close the screen and your fire is started.
TO BED FOR THE NIGHT
If your fire hasn't burned itself out by bedtime, use the tongs to stand
any un burned logs up on end in the corners of the fireplace. This fireplace
trick for burning fireplace wood will ensure they soon burn out and you
will have some good kindling ready for the next fire Be sure the screen
is closed to keep random sparks and embers off the floor or rugs
A FIRE NEEDS AIR
Burning fuel in a fireplace requires a good deal of air. Tight weatherstripping with storm sash may not permit enough air to enter the house to sustain the fire properly, open a window a little way . . sometimes leaving the door to the basement open will do the job.
Watch out for the effect of ventilating fans. Even a small kitchen fan exhausts a good deal of air from the house. If there is no way to replace this air. except down the chimney, your fireplace will smoke and. in extreme cases, ashes may be drawn out (into the hearth extension even through the closed screen.
SOME DOS AND DONTS
Don't be disappointed or impatient if the fire seems to die out in the
early stages when you are burning fireplace wood. A first-of-the-season
fire may need more kindling or perhaps another half-sheet of newspaper burned
in the flue.
Most important — let a bed of ashes accumulate under the fuel. Not too thick — about an inch or so deep — hut spread around evenly over the whole hearth area The ashes insulate the cold hearth and your later fires will start much more readily
Don't try to build too big a fire. Three logs are ideal and four should he all you will ever need for a comfortable, cozy evening. As the top and front logs burn up. turn them around a bit with the tongs and place a fresh log on top.
Keep your fireplace screen closed, espe- cially when leaving the room or
whenever sparks might pop out unobserved to smol- der on floor or rug.
You instantly enjoy a heart-warming glow when, on a crisp, frosty evening, you cross the threshold of a home where the fireplace is in use. The bright, spirited blaze on the hearth is in itself a welcome greeting. Like the cordial words and warm smile of your host, it makes you feel you are in a naturally friendly household.
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