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  • Writer's pictureglucaschimneysweep

"The Swiss method" 

OK, so we all know how to light a fire right? We all have our own methods, tips and techniques for getting it going first time, after all we know our own fireplaces best.

If you have a stove with a twin wall flue or a chimney liner backfilled with vermiculite, then you have probably experienced smoking back at some point.

If you don't experience problems with your fire smoking back when you first light it or you all ways light it first time, go find something more exciting to do.... This probably isn't the post for you!

However If you would like to learn about a simple and effective way of heating the flue and getting the fire established quickly, read on.....

As a chimney sweep I regularly hear, "my stove smokes back when I first light it" or "my chimney is blocked". One of the most common causes of this, is simply a cold chimney! With more and more people having twin wall flues as chimneys and having stainless steel liners backfilled with insulated materials such as vermiculite, it can create a cold plug of air which can stop the flue from functioning before it gets warmed up. This is most common in spring and Autumn... Aka spring and autumn syndrome. This is because when the temperature inside a chimney is slightly warmer than the outside temperature, you have a natural draw, but when it's the opposite you have a cold plug of air which doesn't always disperse when you first light the fire, which causes the fire to smoke back. The easiest way to stop this from happening is to lay the fire upside down! This is called "the Swiss method". Wood combusts from above and burns downwards, so it's always best to burn wood on a bed of Ash, as the Ash acts as an insulator and drives the heat upwards. Next lay 2 larger pieces of wood at the base and then stack kindling on top with a firelighters or two tucked in. Make sure all the air vents are open on the stove and light the fire lighter. Now what happens is you get a very quick source of heat from the kindling and firelighters with little to no smoke, this heats the flue and disperses the cold air. As the fire burns down to the larger wood, the flue is up to temperature and all smoke is now drawn up the chimney and not in the room. You should then be able to close the door on the stove and re fuel as and when required, using the air controls as needed.

This is a real easy way to light a fire and is pretty much full proof.

Occasionally there may be an issue with the stove or chimney, so if you are concerned please do get in touch.

I hope you found this useful.

Thanks for reading.


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