Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How do Fireplace Bellows Work?

Fireplace bellows are very beautiful tools. They have been around since 930 B.C. Their design has stayed fairly well the same over the years with a few improvements made, particularly in the 1600s.

A fireplace bellow works as a single air pump tool. They are triangular shaped and consist of an air chamber and a valve. Grasping the handles and pulling them apart fills the chamber with air, while press the handles back towards each other directs the air out of the valve or nozzle.

This air flow can be used to get a fire going, as fires need a little air (oxygen) to get started well. Using a fireplace bellow is much safer than manually blowing on the fire as you have to get too close to the flames to make much of an effect on them.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How to Start a Fire in a Wood Stove

Wood stoves can be a little tricky when it comes to starting a fire in one. But it can be done.

  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard in 2 inch strips
  • Kindling
  • Small pieces of firewood
  • Matches
Take 4 or 5 pieces of the newspaper and separate them, bunch them up and lay them on the bottom of the firebox bunched near the door.  Lay a couple of the 2 inch cardboard strips over top of your newspaper, then place some of the kindling on top of the cardboard. Lastly, place 1 or 2 small pieces of the firewood on top. Be sure they are smaller and not much over a 2 inch diameter.

Open your stove vent all the way and start your fire. Once your small pieces of firewood have caught fire and burned for several minutes you can add a couple more pieces of firewood. Using a fire poker, or other wood stove tools, you may want to carefully bunch and turn the debris in the wood stove before adding the larger pieces of wood. Keep your stove's vents open until the larger pieces of wood are well ignited and then you can adjust them to your desired heat output of the stove.

It is said that wood stoves work best when they are used in cold weather (32 degrees and below) and for longer than 1 hour.

For more information on Firewood Visit:
How to Cut Firewood
How to Season Firewood

Sunday, November 20, 2011

How to Decide on a Chimney Brush

Every chimney is a little different. This is part of the reason why there are so many different sizes and types of chimney brush. So, how can you tell what size of brush and type of brush bristle you are going to need?

First you will need to know the inner dimensions of your chimney. There is only one way to find this out. You, or someone who can do this safely, will need to climb on top of the roof and measure the inside of the chimney (be sure that there are no fires burning at this time so that there will be no heat or smoke to contend with). Use proper safety precautions and equipment while doing this task.

If your chimney is metal or prefabricated then you will need to remove the chimney cap so that you can measure across the inner diameter of the chimney. With a metal chimney, a poly chimney brush is recommended so that it will not scratch or damage the interior of the chimney.

If your chimney is a masonry chimney then you will need to measure the flue's inner dimensions across both sides. The brush that you purchase will need to be a minimum of as big as the chimney liner or it will not be able to reach both sides of chimney, resulting in a poor job cleaning. However, you will want to be careful not purchase too big of a chimney brush either as this will make cleaning your chimney a very difficult task. Typically, wire chimney brushes are recommended for masonry chimneys.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to Season Firewood (How to Dry Firewood)

Firewood can be a little tricky. You can't just go pick out a tree in the forest, cut it down, and burn it right away. That wood needs to be seasoned or dried before you burn it in your wood stove.

Why does firewood need to be dried?

Firewood that has not been dried has moisture in it.  When wood has moisture in it, the heat from your fire goes towards heating up that water and burning it off (or evaporating it) which makes your fire not burn quite as hot as it should. In addition to your fire producing less heat, your stove is producing condensates. These condensates are what can result in a chimney fire. And this is a very dangerous scenario.

So what can you do to avoid chimney fire causing condensates?

You can season your firewood. In most scenarios, to season/dry your firewood, you would cut and split it in the spring to small manageable pieces and allow it to air dry throughout the spring, summer, and early fall. (Until it is cold enough to need to fire up your wood stove again). Some people prefer to give their wood even longer to season, letting it air dry for up to 2 years. This length of time is preferable if the pieces of wood are large. The bigger your firewood, the longer it will take to dry out. This is why if you do not have 2 years to allow your wood to dry then you should split it into smaller pieces.

While your wood is seasoning, you will want to keep it out of the elements (snow and/or rain) and up on a dry base. If you have your wood in a shed or storage building to season, you will need to have it to where wind and air can pass through to help dry out the wood by wicking away the moisture.

How do I know if purchased firewood is seasoned?

If you are purchasing your firewood from someone, then one way to tell if it is seasoned is if there are cracks in the grain on the end of the pieces of firewood.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kerosene Heater Odors

Have you ever had your kerosene heater fired up, things are starting to get nice and toasty and you start to notice that something isn't smelling quite right? Well, what could cause that bad odor? Is it something that you should be worried about? And how can you prevent this odor in the future?

Many times, a bad odor after your heater is burning is caused by a fuel that is low quality. High sulfur content in your fuel, or lower grade kerosene cannot be burned completely at the temperatures that are reached in a portable kerosene heater.  These unburnt hydrocarbons will collect on your heater wick which causes the wick to harden and will cause low burn and odor problems.

Another cause of this odor could be fuel that was dripped on the heater. You need to be highly careful not to drip any fuel onto your heater. Fuel that is on the outside of the heater or on the drip pan can cause a very strong kerosene smell when your heater gets hot.

A low temperature setting on your kerosene heater while it is operating, or a wick that is installed too low can cause incomplete burning of the fuel, this also can cause an odor. Your heater should always be operated on high, turned down just enough to keep it from sooting. For your wick height, you need to refer to the owner's  manual for the proper wick height for your model.

As for safety, fumes in general are not good to breathe in, but if you follow the advice given above and always know and read your owner's manual and follow all instructions, do not leave the heater unattended, frequently check for recalls, and complete any maintenance on your heater when it is due then your heater should stay in working condition.

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