How To Start A Fire In A Wood Furnace

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How to Start a Fire in a Wood Furnace

As the icy grip of winter tightens, nothing beats the cozy warmth of a crackling fire in a wood furnace. But if you’re new to wood-burning, starting a fire in your furnace can seem like a daunting task. Fear not! With the right technique and a few helpful tips, you’ll be a master wood-burning pro in no time.

Before we dive into the details, let’s first understand the anatomy of a wood furnace. A typical wood furnace consists of a firebox, a flue, and a damper. The firebox is where the fire burns, while the flue allows smoke and gases to escape. The damper is used to control the airflow and intensity of the fire.

Preparing Your Furnace

Before starting a fire, make sure your furnace is clean and free of debris. Inspect the flue for any blockages, as a blocked flue can pose a safety hazard. If necessary, hire a professional chimney sweep or consult your furnace manufacturer’s instructions for proper cleaning.

Choosing the Right Wood

The type of wood you use will significantly impact the efficiency and heat output of your fire. Seasoned hardwood is the best choice for wood furnaces, as it burns hotter and longer than softwood. Seasoned wood has been dried for at least six months, reducing its moisture content and making it more combustible.

Starting the Fire

  1. Open the damper fully: This will allow plenty of air to circulate and help the fire start easily.
  2. Create a tinder nest: Crumple newspaper or paper towels into small balls and place them in the center of the firebox. You can also use kindling sticks, but avoid using treated wood or cardboard.
  3. Light the tinder: Use a match or lighter to ignite the tinder nest. Once the tinder has caught fire, carefully add small pieces of wood to the fire.
  4. Gradually add fuel: As the fire grows stronger, gradually add larger pieces of wood. Leave some space between the pieces to allow for proper air circulation.
  5. Monitor the fire: Keep an eye on the fire and make sure it’s burning steadily. If the fire starts to die down, add more wood or adjust the damper to increase airflow.

Tips and Expert Advice

Use a fire starter: If you’re having trouble starting a fire, consider using a fire starter like fatwood or paraffin cubes. These can help ignite the tinder nest more easily.

Keep the flue clean: A clean flue ensures proper ventilation and prevents creosote buildup, which can reduce efficiency and pose a safety hazard.


  • Q: Can I burn any type of wood in my furnace?

    A: No, it’s important to use seasoned hardwood for optimal efficiency and performance. Avoid burning softwood, treated wood, or garbage.

  • Q: Why is my fire burning too quickly?

    A: The damper may be open too wide, allowing excessive airflow. Adjust the damper to reduce the airflow and slow down the burn rate.

  • Q: What should I do if my furnace is smoking?

    A: If your furnace is smoking excessively, it could indicate a problem with the flue or damper. Check for any blockages and adjust the damper accordingly. If the problem persists, contact a professional.


With a little practice and these helpful tips, you’ll be able to start a fire in your wood furnace with ease and enjoy the cozy warmth it provides. Remember, safety first! Always consult your furnace manufacturer’s instructions and take appropriate precautions to prevent accidents.

Would you like to learn more about wood-burning furnaces or share your own experiences with starting fires? Join the conversation in the comments below!

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