6 Tips for a Cozy Fireplace

Your burning questions: answered. Get ready for fireplace season with these tips from HGTV Magazine.

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November 03, 2022
Modern Living Room With a Fireplace

White and Teal Living Room Fireplace

This white fireplace features teal built-in bookcases on both sides.

Photo by: Alison Gootee

Alison Gootee

By: Erin Zammett Ruddy

What’s the best way to build a fire?

Set yourself up for a roaring success by arranging a pile of kindling (and a fire-starter pack if you’re using one) in the center below the grate. Light that first, then place two logs on the grate parallel to each other with space between them. Add two more logs perpendicularly on top of those, creating a square. Continue stacking in this “log cabin” style — it ensures air can move around and keep the fire burning. Stoke as needed.

What exactly is a “cord” of wood?

A cord is the unit of measurement for firewood, and it’s a stack that’s 4 feet tall by 4 feet deep by 8 feet long (128 cubic feet). If you’re not sure how much you’ll need, start with a half cord.

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Modern Living Room With a Tiled Fireplace Surround

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Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

Why does wood have to be aged?

When trees are first cut down, there’s still water in them, and wet logs don’t burn well. Aging time varies by wood type, but most firewood needs to dry out for at least six months before it’s considered “seasoned.”

Are artificial fire logs OK to use?

Yes. These products are an easy way to have a nice fire for a few hours without all the fuss. In general, you should burn only one at a time, though, and never add real wood on top.

Cozy Modern Living Room

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This cozy living room features a fireplace, modern art, a patterned chair and a pink side table.

Photo by: David A. Land

David A. Land

How often should I clean my fireplace?

Have a certified chimney sweep come once a year to clean and inspect your fireplace and chimney. Between cleanings, you can keep your fireplace tidy on your own by periodically removing the ash under the grate with a shovel. Just make sure the ash has cooled completely and use a fireproof container (a metal bucket or even a clay flowerpot) to transport it outside to the trash. If your fireplace has glass doors, wipe them down occasionally so your flames can shine.

I’m ready to go to bed, but the fire is still burning. What should I do?

The fire needs to be fully out before you are. Separate the logs as much as possible, and once the fire burns down, use a poker to spread the ashes. Make sure there are no dying embers, then fasten the doors or screen. Also remove anything flammable near the fireplace, in case of sparks.

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