Keeping your log fire burning can be tricky, especially if you're dealing with wet wood, a dirty chimney or other maintenance issues. But once you learn a few rules and handy tricks, a hot fire can warm your house and save money in heating bills. On top of that, wood heat dries the air in your home--a big plus if you live in a wet climate.
Arrange newspaper in the centre of fireplace. Place kindling and a compressed wood firelog surrounding it in a tepee shape. If you live in a dry climate or are using very dry wood, a regular split log can take the place of the store-bought firelog. The firelog will just make it easier to keep the fire going.
Check to make sure damper is open on your fireplace or wood stove. Light the fire, and add more kindling until the fire is roaring.
Place larger and larger logs on the fire, in a circular tepee shape. Giving the fire a hot central core helps keep it burning, so make sure there is always a glowing bed of coals in the centre.
Make sure one piece is burning strong before adding another, larger piece. Point the inside portion of the split logs toward the centre of the fire. It's important to use split logs, as the inside of the log burns better than the bark.
Add smaller pieces of wood if the fire starts to die down. These will burn more quickly and help get the larger pieces going again. If necessary, ball up more newspaper and add to the centre, then add more kindling, then larger pieces again.
If you're stoking the fire to be left overnight, place small, medium and large pieces in the fireplace in the tepee fashion, with some of your largest pieces on the outside. This should burn throughout the night.
To keep a warm and consistent fire, be sure to maintain your materials properly. Use wood that has been dried for at least six months, when possible, and keep the wood stored in a dry shed. If that's not possible, at least keep the wood off the ground, and cover it with tarps. Also, be sure to clean the ashes from your fireplace or wood stove on a regular basis.
Take some basic precautions to prevent house fires. Have your chimney cleaned at least once a year to prevent chimney fires. Only remove ashes from the fireplace or wood stove when you are sure there are no coals still burning. Coals can burn for a day or longer.