How to start a draft in a fireplace

Someone told me a good way to start a draft in a fireplace it to take one sheet of a newspaper, wad it and roll it at the same time so it will burn well and is tall with a "handle" at the base, light the top, and hold it up inside the fireplace, close to the chimney.
When I do this, everything is fine. Then I light the paper below the kindling which is below the logs, and even the first bit of smoke goes up the chimney.
When I skip this part, lighting a sheet of newspaper near the chimney, there is no current up the chimney and after I light the fire, the smoke goes out into the room and eventually up the stairs to the first floor. Even then, if there is not too much flame, I can do the newspaper in the chimney thing and start the air flow up the chimney, and it sucks the smoke out of the basement room, into the fire and up the chimney.
But someone told me the newspaper thing is not a good idea. True? and if true, why not?
It seems to work well.
In my case, I have a steel fireplace with galvanized chimney, and an iron log rack.
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You sure it is galvanized and not stainless? Usually wood burning fireplaces require stainless, while gas use galvanized.
JK
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On Fri, 11 Apr 2008 22:00:23 -0700 (PDT), Big_Jake

No, I'm not sure. YOu could be right. The only part I can really see is the part above the second floor ceiling and the part above the roof, and even then I can only see the outside layer. That is galvanized, but I know there is insulation and then an inside layer.
The part I might see just above the chimney is dirty and I've never looked closely at it or tried to clean it to see if it is stainless.

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I use the same trick if there's ever a question about fireplace/ chimney draft. I don't see how it could be considered a bad idea - it works.
R
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"mm" wrote

Shouldnt be needed actually.

Ash and creosote development. It's possible to ignite the chiney that way if it hasnt been cleaned properly. However, if you burn only hard woods (no pines etc) and have an annual professional cleaning, it might be ok. Might be best to just call your local chiney cleaners and ask. This is probably a free question.
BTW, if you have been trying to 'DIY' chimney clean, you may be in for some pretty severe issues. Although if can be done, unless you have the right gear and really know what you are doing, thats a common cause of house fires.

I can hazard a guess that your log rack is too far to the front. You may need to shift to more towards the back a few inches to gain a proper draft with no need for the paper trick up the chimney.
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cshenk wrote:

But often is...

Many things are possible, but if the chimney buildup is that bad, the fire to come is certainly far more likely to do the trick. Newspaper doesn't burn very hot and a single sheet or two isn't much of a fire...
...

Possible, but many fireplaces just don't draw well owing to many factors -- too large, too small, etc., etc., etc., ...
The prime reason any more is the house itself is sealed too well so there's insufficient draft available--the almost certain 'trick' is to crack open a window.
The sign of a chimney that draws well enough once a warm column is started to counteract the downdraft of the cold air column is a pretty good sign of insufficient air flow available.
--
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It would appear that you have a problem, it could be a badly designed chimney, a chimney that needs sweeping, a chimney needs to project at least 3.5 feet above the roof peak to draw properly, a chimney that is the wrong size for the stove, diameter too big or too small, a chimney that is starved of air,
From a practical view, a chimney that is inside the main fabric of the building and is protected from the cold and wind and is properly insulated will always work better. When lighting a fire, the chimney that is insulated will start quicker.
When lighting the fire, the initial heat has to lift a plug of cold air up and out of the chimney, some 16 feet of cold air will be pushed upwards and out, an easy air supply and a quick to warm chimney will make life a lot more pleasant. A fire that has a direct supply of outside air is cheaper to run, in as much as it is not burning air you v'e paid to heat, and it will stop any drafts in the room. On the other hand, a fire that burns too quickly, will burn cold. So, a fire needs a controlled air supply to burn at its hottest. On tick over, a fire that has a cold flue, or that struggles to find air to burn will go out sooner.
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Code (the IRC specifically) requires a chimney to be 2' higher than the closest section of roof within 10', but no less than 3' higher than where it penetrates the roof - not 3.5' above the peak. In your scenario, with a chimney on a non-gable wall, the chimney could easily extend 10' or 15' above the roof line. Too tall of a chimney is also a bad thing for the draft...and cost.
R
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mm wrote:

in the chimney. Also makes sure you have damper open.
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That's what my parents have done, for years. The news paper like the Statue of Liberty, up the chimney.
Find the guy who said not to. Ask him WHY not.
--
Christopher A. Young
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