As the temperatures dip here the next few days and you think of coming home and lighting that fire it’s important to remember that the chimney is cold. It’s filled with cold air that will fall into your house as soon as you open the damper. If the chimney isn’t primed before you build the fire, that cold will block the warm air from rising up, causing “air sink”, which will push smoke into your house. Fortunately, there are a couple of things you can do to warm your chimney before you light that first fire. Open the damper and you will usually feel the cold draft fall into your fireplace or stove. Some people decide to leave the damper open and let the heat in your house warm the chimney. Not only can this take several minutes or hours, if your fireplace is your method of home heating this won’t work for you. Roll a newspaper and light it, holding it directly under the damper for three to four minutes. This allows for direct heat to move into the chimney and force it’s way up. During this process, you can usually feel the exchange of warm and cold air. Once this happens, your chimney is primed. Build a top-down burn in the fireplace or appliance. A top-down burn allows for a cleaner burn, and makes the best use of the of the fireplace, producing less smoke in the process. Instead of placing tinder at the bottom and building on top of the struggling fire, you build in the opposite way: placing large logs at the bottom, then medium logs, then tinder and kindling.