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How to Correctly Start a Fire in Your Wood Stove


Leaves are turning vivid shades of orange and yellow, the wind is gusting, and the temperature is dropping. Fall has officially arrived here in the Pacific Northwest, and at my house, that means it’s time to fire up the wood stove.

Did you know you can conserve firewood and heat your home more efficiently by properly loading and starting the fire in your wood stove?

Our friends at Travis Industries, manufacturer of the popular Lopi brand, provided this helpful 2-minute video tutorial on how to start a fire in your wood stove. Be sure to print the additional tips, below, after you watch the video.


Chapter 3 from Travis Industries on Vimeo.


Use dry wood

You don’t want a smoky fire (which comes from using wood with a moisture content of 20% or more). And you don’t want the energy content from your firewood to go up in smoke (literally). It’s critically important to split the wood, properly stack it off the ground, and allow it to dry for 6-to-8 months. When you let your firewood dry, stack it in a well-ventilated place and cover the top but not the sides.

Some types of wood take longer to dry than others – ask a sales representative at Rich’s for advice about how long to “season” different species of wood.

Check the draft from your chimney  Lopi Logo

Before you light your wood stove, make sure that the smoke will go up the chimney, as opposed to staying static or seeping into your home. Open the side door and the bypass damper, light a match in front of the flue outlet, and watch which direction the flame goes. The flame should be pulled into the flue opening, as opposed to staying stationary or coming back towards you.

To establish a proper draft, open the loading door and catalytic bypass and then open a door or window in the room in which your stove is installed. This reverses the pressure in your home and allows the chimney to begin to draw. Wait a couple of minutes, then light another match in the flue outlet and check it again.

If the chimney is drawing correctly, you can encourage a good draft by warming the chimney slightly. Crumple a small piece of newspaper into a torch shape, light it, and hold it at the flue outlet.

Load the wood

The wood box in the Lopi Endeavor stove in the video is 19 ½ inches deep, so you can insert wood front-to-back and criss-cross the wood, leaving some air gaps.

Make sure the bypass damper is open.

Light the fire starter (several sheets of loosely crumpled newspaper works if you don't have fire starter).

Close the door without latching it; this helps the fire start quicker.

After fire gets established, latch the door.

Leave the air control and bypass damper open for 30-45 minutes, until a good temperature is established in your chimney.

At Rich's five Puget Sound showrooms in Lynnwood, Bellevue, Southcenter, Tacoma, and Silverdale, we carry a full line of Lopi stoves. Stop by and get warmed up!