We moved into a new house (to us anyway, it was built in the 40's) in August, and there is an Englander fireplace insert downstairs. It was installed in about 1990 or so, and has a blower in the insert as well as a fan in the fireplace. Of course neither worked, but were easy to fix (the fireplace fan was seized from lack of oil and caked with 50 years of dust, and the insert blower had a burned out variable speed control and was upside down) I have never heated with wood before, except for a week or so last winter when I stayed with my Grandma after she had surgery (she had an old stove that was warped and didnt burn well, it has since been replaced). My Dad has heated with wood for years (all before I was born) and can get a good fire going, but he just finished with cancer treatments and gets tired easily, so it is up to me to keep the fire going. The house is basically a two story but is set up so it could be a two family house (I am living downstairs, and my parents upstairs) I am hoping to learn how to start a good fire (and keep it going haha). The insert has two knobs on the doors for the draft, and a long handle on the side which can be pushed in or pulled out to control the damper. This is where I get confused, I have no problem piling some paper and kindling in the stove and setting fire to it, but either I run the damper and drafts too far open and burn it out too fast or close them too far or too fast and put the thing out. I have gotten advice from my dad and am learning slowly, but it seems like things should be going a bit smoother. About wednesday, I got up in the morning and got the fire going from the leftover ashes and then found out it was really nice outside. Ok, no problem, I thought, I will put the fire out and restart it later. So, knowing that closing the drafts all the way puts the fire out, I screwed both drafts closed tight and went on with my day, leaving the damper open to let the smoke escape. Later, I decided to get it going again, and opened the doots to be greeted with a plume of smoke, and the entire stove and windows coated with thick black goo. The fire had smoldered along all day, and took off when the door was opened. I just finished cleaning the remains of the goo off of the windows. I have also gone the opposite way and had it too hot and opened the back door to let the heat out, or as on one occasion, had to stop adding wood and let it go out because there was too many hot ashes andd they were level with the bottom of the doors. So here I sit, the stove is all cleaned out and ready, waiting for a need to light it. It has been in the 60's here since thursday, so no need for a fire. Thanks in advance for any help!