When We purchased this house, the big black box in the middle of my family room was a bit puzzling to me. I've had fireplaces before, and they are good for roasting marshmallows, hanging stockings or warming up the ambiance of a room, but I've found them to be mostly ornamental. "How was I going to use this black box??? I thought to myself". Well since we moved in in the summer I knew I would have time to think about that later.
Well Winter rolled around and our first cold month electric bill came in, and I decided it was time to figure out how to use this black box also known as a "wood burning stove".
After all the basic problems were figured out, how much wood, seasoned or fresh, how long to season, how to get it to light, how to circulate the heat...this big black box has turned into a wonderful tool for keeping warm on cold winter days.
First hurtle, how to start a fire. No gas jet was attached to this thing, not that I've ever had one but getting a good "worth it" fire going was quite the chore. Over time I've conquered this task. And am now the master fire builder in the family.
There is an optional screen, if you want the beauty of the fire, But I usually use the doors.
I can start a fire in the morning and keep it going all day long with minimal effort. And has it helped the electric bill? Youbetcha!!!! Big time, it's like a contest for me every winter, how low can we keep that bill!!!!
So despite the one chimney fire I had, oops!! my fault, Get those chimney's cleaned yearly. I love my black box. Here are a few things I have learned in building and warming your home with fire.
If the heat is not circulating but the fire is going strong, try turning on a ceiling fan on low.
This will push all that hot air that has floated to the ceiling back down to earth where it belongs.
I use the small rectangle fire starters and old phone book pages or newspaper to get the fire going. First I crumple up about8-12 phone book pages and make a bed for the firestarter, and then sit 1/2 of a firestarted on top. I light the pages which in turn will light the firestarter. When it's going I add small branches (not Pine I like to burn Oak) on top of it, and add larger branches then logs as it gets going more and more.
Close the doors, open the vents and leave it alone. Let it do the work of getting started. Closing those doors will keep the heat in and ignight the wood faster. If my wood is wet, I'll place a few pieces inside the fire box on either side of the fire, this will dry them out and they will be ready when it's their turn to be place on the fire.
Fire wood should be stacked for a year to season well. Trying to burn fresh wood is a task in futility.
You can tell well seasoned dry wood by looking at the ends. You'll see cracks there where the rings are. Dry wood is also lighter to carry.
I use kitchen tongs to move my kindling into place and adjust smaller pieces of wood. They are easier for me to control than a long handled grabber.
Right now this is the scene outside my back door, and the temp inside is 70 and the heater is not even going. $$$$$$$$
Do you have a fireplace or woodburning stove. Do you use it to heat your home???
Do you have any hints or tips.