Do you have a fireplace you like to enjoy in the winter? Using a fireplace is something many homeowners take advantage of when it gets cold outside. But sometimes people don’t know how to build a good fire, or the thought of building a fire inside their own home can be daunting. Luckily, there is a tried and true way to start your fireplace fire.

The first thing you’ll want to do is have your fireplace inspected. Most people do this in autumn, though you can hire a professional to come out at any time. The person you hire should check to make sure your stack is aligned properly and that there are no problem areas inside your chimney that cropped up due to age or weather. Additionally, a chimney sweep should be hired to clean out dust, debris, and possible animal shelters from your chimney prior to your building a fire.

Next, open the damper. This is what will send the smoke from your fire up and out of your chimney instead of down and into your house. This is the most commonly missed step when people start a fire—and it’s the fear of doing this that keeps a lot of homeowners from enjoying their fireplace. If you’re not sure where the damper is, ask your chimney sweep or a trusted friend to help you identify it.

Prep the flue. In most instances, chimneys are on the outside of a home, and this means they get cold. When you open your damper, cold air from outside will sink down into your home. If you light a fire during this time, the smoke will enter your home instead of going up and out the chimney. So you need to warm up the flue before you light your fire. Do this by lighting some kindling—many people use newspaper—and holding it up by the damper for several minutes.

Create an ash bed. If you’ve never started a fire before, you don’t have one of these. But that’s okay! You can use ash from an outdoor grill or you can create ash by letting several pages of a newspaper burn. Ash will held insulate your fire and make your fire nice and hot. This is an important step you shouldn’t skip.

Build your fire. Make sure that you’re using clean, trusted logs that are free of critters including termites. And always have a bucket of water near your fireplace in the event of an emergency. Fire screens can help prevent embers and sparks from jumping free of your fireplace and are a worthwhile investment if you’re going to be lighting frequent fires this winter.

It doesn’t take much to build a good fire. The most important thing is taking your time to go through all the steps we’ve listed above. When you do, you’re sure to enjoy fires inside your home this winter and for many winters to come.