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I want to start using our open fireplace for the first time, any tips??

(21 Posts)
ElleOhElle Tue 10-Sep-13 20:51:17

We moved in last year but didn't get round to using the fireplace. I'm hoping to start using it soon now the weather's turning to try and avoid putting the heating on just yet.

never had an open fire before so not sure how to get started, is there anything I should be doing?

any tips would be great! grin

delasi Tue 10-Sep-13 20:58:57

Not had one myself either, but some of DH's relatives do and based on their experiences my top tip would be to first make sure it's all clean, chimney clear etc. So you don't get all manner of dust/smoke/fire spilling out.

You also require a sheepskin rug, oversized woolly jumpers, and big mugs of hot chocolate. And maybe something some skewers and marshmallows. I think that's what you do with an open fire grin

Delayingtactic Tue 10-Sep-13 20:59:51

I'd get a proper chimney sweep in. They make sure your chimney is safe and clear.

Depends whether you want a pretty log fire but not so fussed about the warmth or actual heat is a big thing. We use our fire to heat the downstairs as otherwise we are paying to heat up two floors that we're not actually using. So we use coal. I think it looks nice to but will stay hot and going for hours.

Make a little pile of kindling and get it going a bit before building either a tower of logs or coal. Add in as it gets low. Don't use massive logs as it won't burn as well unless you have a massive fire.

ElleOhElle Tue 10-Sep-13 21:03:30

heat definitely the priority!! the ability to toast marshmallows comes a pretty close second though!!grin

wigglytoes Tue 10-Sep-13 21:13:55

If you live in a flat please tell your neighbour before you do this, and make sure your chimney is clear!

My lodger and I were watching a film one day, we looked up and while we'd been absorbed in the film, the room had filled with smoke! Not at all obvious where it had come from so we called the fire brigade.

The firemen couldn't work it out for ages either.

ElleOhElle Tue 10-Sep-13 21:39:33

omg, that's terrible. no it's a house so hopefully no surprise call ons by the fire brigade!!

specialsubject Tue 10-Sep-13 21:43:56

get chimney swept and checked by HETAS qualified person first unless this was done when you purchased.

open fires are very inefficient. Too late for this season, but get a log burner installed next summer if you want to continue with this.

ElleOhElle Tue 10-Sep-13 22:01:06

thanks, we''ll probably will get a log burner fitted next year.

wigglytoes Thu 12-Sep-13 00:55:57

Ah it was OK in the end.

My friend made me laugh - when she heard there were real firemen coming she rushed off to put makeup on. (This is while we still had no idea where the smoke came from!) shock

Then when they turned up they were all at least 20 years older than her and big burly men, not her type at all. It did make me giggle.

wigglytoes Thu 12-Sep-13 00:56:04

Ah it was OK in the end.

My friend made me laugh - when she heard there were real firemen coming she rushed off to put makeup on. (This is while we still had no idea where the smoke came from!) shock

Then when they turned up they were all at least 20 years older than her and big burly men, not her type at all. It did make me giggle.

wigglytoes Thu 12-Sep-13 00:56:22

Oops! blush

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 12-Sep-13 01:32:14

As everyone has said, get the chimney swept. Then check if you're in a smoke-free zone. If you are, you need smokeless coal. Do not routinely burn wood/logs unless you've had the chimney specially lined; the odd log at Xmas is fine, but not daily, woodsmoke leaves a flammable residue in your chimney, and however hunky firemen are you don't really want to meet them at 3am.

To actually start a fire, my preferred method is rolled-up newspaper (roll diagonally, some tight, some loose, put single, unrolled sheet on grate, then loose on the bottom, tight on top; use a broadsheet rather than a tabloid) and wood kindling (small sticks), then coal on top. But I realise other methods also work, so if you want to use firelighters, follow the instructions on the box. Smokeless coal can be a bugger to get going, and firelighters are probably better, but if you happen to have a few BBQ charcoal briquettes left over from summer, firelighters + charcoal, then smokeless coal works.

I may have spent too many years with too many solid fuel burners. blush

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 12-Sep-13 01:37:36

PS, if you're imagining romantic shags in front of said fire, forget it. Your fire requires oxygen, so draws air through your house. This is good for ventilation, but does mean floor-level draughts, so shagging in front of the fire (deep pile rug or no grin ) means one half of you is roasted by the fire while the other half suffers in the breeze. And the half exposed to the fire worries about sparks... You do have a sparkguard, yes?

ElleOhElle Thu 12-Sep-13 20:57:45

I don't think we're in a smoke free zone, I remember seeing lots of chimneys on the go last year. thanks for the advice 're the 'shag' pile haha!!! wink

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 12-Sep-13 23:23:42

Check the smoke-free thing here, or ask your local coal merchant. And enjoy your fire, I've had one sort or another in every home I've had since 1987, would miss one now. (Though I have to admit gas is much cleaner...)

Have you a set of fire irons/companion set? Poker, spade, brush, tongs. You can get them quite inexpensively at B&Q, you'll need a coal bucket/scuttle too. And the spark guard. And I find a lidded, metal bucket useful for hot ash. smile

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 12-Sep-13 23:39:45

PS again, do not buy your coal from the garage, it's at least twice the price of the stuff you buy from the merchant, if not considerably more. The coal merchant will deliver 50kg of coal (a sack) for about £12-15, obviously you can get more than one sack (and in The Olden Days, some refused to deliver less than a tonne!) so you need to look at your coal storage. You will probably have to pay for your coal on delivery, cash or cheque, maybe some now carry card-readers but I wouldn't count on it. Buying by the tonne, Or even half-tonne, rather than one or two 50kg sacks, might get you a wee discount, if you have the storage.

I say yet again, you need a spark guard. Absolutely essential when your fire is first set and in flames, can be moved once it settles into a red glow. Some coal is sparkier than others, it's caused by gas within the coal and unpredictable, and it makes your coal explode. I'll never forget the night a red-hot, burning piece of coal shot 12 feet across the room, barely missing dh, and scorched a hole in the carpet. And we'd had fires for decades, still made a stupid mistake when we didn't put the guard up, having refuelled. Get one that fits more or less flush to your fireplace, I've seen some that are just wee fences and bugger-all use really.

If there's anything else you need to know, once you've had your chimney cleaned, feel free to PM. i'll keep this on my "watch" list, but it might slip down a bit. smile

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 12-Sep-13 23:51:41

Spark guard should be shaped like this, not like this. I've never used one like this, but they might let more heat out, sparkguards do reduce the benefit. (Other spark guards are available.)

treesntrees Sun 15-Sep-13 21:25:41

You might find your chimney needs a period to warm up so don't give up if you don't get a good draw at first.

gobbin Mon 16-Sep-13 19:10:42

Will reiterate getting your chimney swept and a smoke test done by a chimney sweep first for safety's sake.

Decide whether you want to use coal, wood or both (we start our fire with old loo rolls, coal and firelighters then bung small/med/large logs as it gets going). Google coal/log suppliers and decide how much you need or can store.

We can keep 50kg of coal in a plastic dustbin (only use that much a year as we mainly burn logs) and use about 2 tonnes of logs kept mostly in a B and Q low plastic storage shed and the rest piled up under tarpaulins.

Spark guard is essential, fireside set for cleaning, coal bucket or log basket. Make sure ashes are cold before cleaning or binning...

I never leave my fire unattended out of the house as it's an open fire so I never start one if I know I'm going out later. A log burner would be different.

BrownSauceSandwich Tue 17-Sep-13 20:16:08

Chimney sweep to sweep and smoke test your chimney, definitely. Dog for hearth rug is pretty much essential.

ElleOhElle Fri 27-Sep-13 21:11:06

thanks for all the great tips-sorry not been on here for a while. chimney sweep is booked for 8th October!! excited

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