Friday, December 21, 2012

The First Fire... (in the fireplace)

So We were lucky enough to buy a house that has a Wood Fireplace in the basement Family Room.

There are a few pros, and a few cons to this:

Its a nice looking, Painted Brick Fireplace and it adds to the rooms cosyness.
In A Power Outage, we have a way to keep our house and our pipes from freezing
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. (need I say more?)
My odds of surviving a zombie apocolypse are slightly better.

Insurance isn't a fan of these and you'll pay a dollar or two more a month as a result
Some minor heat loss/drafts when not in use
Storing wood is a pain. Bringing wood into your house can also bring pests/bugs

So, I Megan and I actually committed to staying up and watching TV until 11, so we decided to burn one of our 3 hour logs I bought before a big storm coming our way (they warned of blackouts... I figured that was as good as excuse as any to spend money)

My Father in law told me that I should burn some news paper to warm up the chimney.
I assumed - hey, the 3 Hour log is covered in paper - Should be good enough! *shrugs*

So I proceed to Open the Flu (a  lever that opens up a flap to connect your chimney to the house) Light the paper, and almost immediately panic.

It was like... a Wall of smoke, billowing into my house. Panic, Running around, "do we have a bucket?!?" ensued, then an eternity later (about 10-15 seconds) I decided my best course of action would be to close the glass doors and the vent at the bottom.

Once the flame got going, things settled down. Half a can of febreeze in the basement and the smoke smell was sufficiently masked.

Should have listened to the Father in Law.  (wow, did I just say that?)

Lesson number 1: Hot air rises.

It was a cold, windy day... and Cold air sinks. That cold air came rushing into my basement via the chimney  blowing the flame/smoke into our

Thankfully, My knee jerk reaction of closing the glass doors helped a little bit. It reduced the amount of wind rushing down through the fireplace into my house enough that the flame was able to heat the air enough to get some hot air rising - Convection. Once this occurs, Smoke goes out the chimney, rather than billowing into my basement.

FYI: the soot mark above the fireplace was there before I started the fire...

"3 Hour Logs"

A warning about "three hour logs" and such - They're basically sawdust held together with wax. They don't make a huge flame - But if you poke them while they're burning, they'll desintigrate into a fireball of doom, as all the sawdust breaks apart, causing a huge amount of surface area - AKA "fuel for the fire" to be exposed.
Also, they don't burn overly clean. You'll need to have your chimney cleaned if you burn them regularly.

I've yet to try a "cleaning" log, but If i do, i'll be taking before and after photos! Expect a new post on this in the new year.

Our three hour log lasted 4 hours. It was a late night for a work night. Since you can't just break it up for fear of the fireball of doom, you're forced to just wait it out.

One Nice thing about the 3 Hour log is that it doesn't crackle much - No sparks flying, We put the chain mesh screen in front anyway, but we didn't need to. it also burns down to pretty much nothing, reducing the number of times you have to clean the ash out of your fireplace.


All said and done... I love the fireplace, but for the work/hassle, I think I'd Prefer gas next time and sacrifice some of the "traditional" feel you get from a wood burning fireplace. I wonder if they make "open" gas fireplaces not surrounded by Glass. That would be a good compromise.

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