How to Start a Fire

Steps to Start a Fire in your Fireplace

How to start fire steps

1. Before you doing anything else and start fire, be sure to open the damper! You don’t want to accidentally fill up your house with smoke. Hold up a piece of burning, rolled up newspaper in the open damper for about 10 to 15 seconds by using the poker tool. Then light the tinder.

2. You’ll need three things to start your fire: Tinder, Kindling, and Fuel.

You can use small twigs, pine needles or pine cones as tinder. However, old crumbled up newspaper makes the very best tinder when starting a fire in your fireplace.

Kindling such as large twigs, small branches and splits of wood that range from 1/4″ to 1″ in thickness will do.

When fueling your fireplace only use well-seasoned hardwood such as ash, hickory or oak. If you really need to burn soft wood (cedar, fir or red pine) make sure that they are well-seasoned. Signs of seasoned wood are loose bark and cracks at the end of the wood. If you see bubbling liquids in the burning logs, DO NOT BURN!

3. To start the fire begin by arranging 2 (small to medium sized) pieces of firewood on the grate. Between the logs, place the tinder of your choice and cover it with several pieces of kindling.

Don’t be afraid to be generous with the kindling. Place two more pieces of firewood on top of the kindling and two more pieces of firewood at a right angle. Leave some spaces in between for air circulation.

Now you should have a nice burning fire, warming up your home!

Warm Fire Fireplace

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Don’t DIY Chimney Cleaning

Why You Shouldn’t DIY

Your Chimney Cleaning 


In the past few years there has been a lot of hype in regards to DIY (Do It Yourself). There are some websites and blogs such as Pinterest that say a homeowner doesn’t need a chimney sweep to perform a chimney cleaning and post videos that teach you how to perform a chimney cleaning.

Many posts online (such as Pinterest) say homeowners can clean out their own chimneys.


However there are certain things that homeowners’ shouldn’t take it upon themselves to do, such as cleaning their home’s chimney. There are some homeowners that may do a good job in maintaining their chimney but that’s only to a certain degree (no pun intended). Things such as creosote buildup, a damaged flue, live/dead critters, etc. can be overlooked when DIYing a chimney cleaning, which is why a chimney sweep needs to be called in.

3rd Stage Glazed Creosote

Damaged Flue Liner


Chimney Sweeps are certified trained professionals who while cleaning your chimney also look for anything that may be wrong with your chimney. They also use the proper tools and equipment needed to clear out your chimney completely without creating any new problems along the way.

So before trying your hand on chimney cleaning, call one of our professional chimney sweeps today at 1 877 520 3595! or schedule an appointment with us online at!

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Negative Pressure?

Chimneys use a lot of air to fuel their fires. This air has to come from somewhere. Some houses are so air tight that a negative-pressure system can develop, ensuring that your fire will not draft properly. This problem can be made worse by other appliances competing for the same air (i.e. Range hoods, bathroom vents, clothes dryers, forced draft services.

Fortunately this problem is very easy to diagnose. If your chimney is beginning to smoke you can crack a nearby window or door and the draft should fix itself. Mike’s mobile can install an air vent for makeup air if this is your problem. These vents can be closed when not in use so energy is not wasted.

Homeowner’s Guide to a Smoking Chimney

Guide to Smoking ChimneysProfessional chimney technicians identify potential chimney problems when they do cleanings and inspections. Some problems, however, are more easily diagnosed with the homeowner’s help since you can identify them as they have to do with particular burning situations when we might not be around. The following guide is written especially for homeowners who have issues with a smoking chimney.

Consult with this checklist to gain control of your smoking chimney. If you’re still  having problems call Mike’s Mobile today and we can help!


Is Your Damper Fully Open?

It is good practice to check if your damper is open before EVERY fire. Some dampers become loose and can close on their own. Sometimes a relative or child can close a damper without informing other members of the household. If you find a rusted, warped or worn damper when you check it – Call Mike’s Mobile! We have a replacement damper with an AIR-TIGHT seal that mounts on the TOP of your chimney. Old-style metal throat dampers can cost you over $200 a year in lost energy. Upgrading to a Lock-Top damper keeps air inside, so that no heat or air-conditioning gets lost up your chimney.

Seasoned Firewood?

Seasoned FirewoodFirewood should be completely seasoned- any excess moisture in the wood takes energy out of the fire and can cause a weak draft. Firewood should be properly sized for the fireplace- it might be necessary to split logs to have smaller, dryer wood.

Warning Signs Your Chimney Might Need Repairs

chimney inspection nfi csiaMike’s Mobile Chimney Sweep

Usually by the time the average homeowner notices a problem with their chimney, it has probably needed some repairs for quite some time. To avoid any future repairs (big or small) be sure to be on the lookout for these signs.  

  • Damaged Lining

Chimney Liner


Unfortunately, there are usually no obvious signs that a chimney liner is damaged. In some rare cases, you may notice broken masonry in your fireplace and the debris could be bits of a deteriorating flue liner that have fallen into the firebox. Because it is usually not obvious that a liner needs to be repaired, it’s important to have a reputable chimney sweep inspect your chimney’s flue annually. To avoid harmful hazards such as creosote on your liner and home, schedule a chimney sweep to remove the soot and creosote before it turns into Stage 3 and damages your liner.

  • Water Damage

Water Damage


From something as serious as crumbling masonry to something seemingly harmless like droplets of water, both are usually reasons enough to call over a professional chimney sweep to have a look at your chimney. A certified chimney sweep will also be able to inspect your flashing, the chimney cap as well as the crown which tend to be the common causes for a leaking chimney. Other signs of a leaky chimney include:

  Water stains on masonry, walls and/or ceilings.

  A musty odor coming from within the chimney,
   clogged cleaned-out area and/or wet ashes

  To avoid some water damage have your
    chimney waterproofed professionally.

  • Wear and Tear

Damaged firebox


The firebox/fireplace is usually the part of your home’s chimney system that receives the least amount of attention even though it withstands the most heat and abuse. If built with the incorrect materials or if affected by water penetration the masonry can be damaged which can be disastrous. In order to avoid disastrous damages to your firebox, assessing the firebox as part of your monthly home maintenance is the best way to stay on top of it. You can do so by removing ashes and by looking for cracks in your chimney’s masonry.  

For more information on other services Mike’s Mobile Screen & Chimney Service offers visit our website!

If you happen to realize that your home’s chimney does need to have some repairs done, schedule an appointment with us today at TOLL FREE NUMBER 1 877 520 3595!

Smoke When the Wind Blows?

Smoke when the wind blowsIf your fireplace smokes or has draft issues when the wind blows it is usually because the chimney is too short (or too close to nearby structures) Don’t worry, you don’t have to replace the chimney. This can be corrected in a variety of ways; Mike’s Mobile has special wind blocking caps or flue extender caps that can fix this problem at a reasonable cost to you.

Fireplace Grate?

Fireplace GrateAlthough it’s a small piece of equipment, a fireplace grate should not be overlooked. Fireplace grates maintain consistent airflow around a fire which aids in complete combustion (a cleaner burning fire!). If your chimney tends to smoke towards the end of your burning season, you may be in need of a new fireplace grate. A fireplace grate also performs a variety of other important fire burning and safety functions.

Fire place grates are usually available seasonally at your local hardware store (be sure to get the correct size for your fire box opening) or, we carry a full selection of high quality grates all year around! To get the correct size grate, measure the smallest width of your fire box (usually the back).

Clean or Dirty?

Clean-or-DirtyIs your chimney clean or dirty? When was the last time you’ve had your chimney cleaned? If you burn often, your chimney should be cleaned after every cord of wood that is burned. Soot and creosote buildup can seriously affect the performance of your chimney. Birds, small animals, leaves, twigs, bees, etc are some of the things we see on a daily basis clogging up chimneys. Chimney caps help without outside debris, but there is no replacement for an annual chimney inspection or cleaning.