Burn Season – What it Means & How to Prepare for It
The chimney industry isn’t known for clever naming conventions. We call the season that you use your fireplace the Burn Season.
See what I mean?
We expand that time to include August because that is when most people are starting to prepare their homes for the winter. Including their fireplace and chimney.
Whether you have a gas stove, a wood fireplace, or some other type of fireplace, this guide will give you all the information you need to make sure your chimney and fireplace are ready for the weather.
Schedule Your Inspection
The first thing you should do to prepare for the burn season is to schedule an inspection. This needs to be done at least once a year.
With an annual inspection, you’ll have a professional chimney technician take a look at your chimney to see if you have any issues that may have occurred in the past year.
Throughout the course of the year, your chimney is exposed to a lot of different elements. Rain, snow, hail, wind, and potentially even animals climbing all over your chimney.
When you schedule an inspection, a technician will take a look at the condition of your chimney to see how it withstood the test of all the elements.
At Patriot Chimney, that means we’ll run a camera down your flue to look inside. We’ll climb on the roof to give a close inspection of the siding of your chimney. And we’ll work through our 50-point inspection to give you the best idea of the condition of your chimney.
After the inspection, we’ll go over our report, trying to explain the condition in jargon-free language.
If we discover an issue, we’ll share the pictures and/or video so you know exactly what’s going on.
Schedule a Chimney Sweep
During your inspection, if your technician sees that your chimney has any kind of obstruction that will require your chimney to be cleaned, you’ll need to get that taken care of before you use your fireplace.
Your chimney’s job is to exhaust the fumes, smoke, sparks, and other parts of the fire up and out of your home.
This requires a free flow and any kind of obstruction will hinder your chimney’s ability to do that.
If your chimney is not drafting, then it could lead to smoke being pushed back into your home. Or worse, carbon monoxide to be pushed back to your home.
The most common reason to have your chimney swept is because of Creosote.
Creosote is a natural byproduct of using your chimney. But it’s highly flammable and acidic. It cakes onto the walls of your flue and builds onto itself.
If you don’t have the creosote cleaned annually, you run the risk of more creosote building up and creating a drafting problem. And also a risk that a spark will reach the creosote deposit, which could lead to a chimney fire.
We recommend that you have your chimney swept once the creosote deposits are 1/8” thick. Anything less than that is practically harmless.
Stock up On “Seasoned” Firewood
Seasoned wood is dry wood, with a moisture content between 20-25% moisture content. Seasoned wood allows your fire to burn cleaner, brighter, and much hotter. So you’ll be able to have a much more efficient fire.
If you want to season it yourself, just know that it takes a long time, up to 2 years depending on the wood you’re looking to burn.
Seasoned firewood is simply wood that is left out to dry for a long period of time. This allows the moisture from the tree’s cells and sap to evaporate from the wood.
Whether you choose to season the wood yourself, or you want to buy it from someone, the first thing you need to consider is if the moisture content is between 15-25%. You can test this with a tool like this one at Home Depot.
Whatever you do, do not burn “green” wood.
This is wood that doesn’t have the appropriate moisture content.
Here are a few problems you’ll see if you burn green wood:
- The more moisture that the wood contains, the dirtier it burns. That means the more smoke you’ll have in your chimney
- The more smoke you have in your chimney, the more creosote will be deposited on the walls of the chimney.
- Higher moisture content means that you’ll receive less heat from the wood.
- Less heat from the wood means your fire is going to have to work harder to stay lit, which means you’ll need to work harder to maintain the fire.
Make Sure Your Gas is Ready
For the same reason that you’ll need to make sure you have seasoned firewood, if you have a gas stove, make sure you have enough gas.
Most of the time, the gas line runs to the house and it’s something that a lot of your appliances are hooked up to.
But we’ve seen it a lot of times, where the gas tank is only hooked up to the fireplace.
If that’s the case, you’ll need to set a reminder to call your gas company, so they can come out to fill your tank.
You don’t want to be stuck without gas in the middle of winter, so it’s better to get everything squared away now.
How to Hire a Chimney Company
During the burn season, the best thing you can do is call in August.
Otherwise, you’ll probably get told that the soonest anyone can be out to take care of your chimney is three to four weeks.
That’s a long time to wait to have a fire going (safely) in your home.
I know, it’s a lot to consider.
But that doesn’t mean that it has to be a stressful task. You can easily reach out to your local chimney company and have a done-for-you solution in no time!
But navigating through all of the chimney companies in your city can be a chore all on its own. And it makes sense, too.
Hiring anyone to come into your home to fix something like your chimney shouldn’t be a task you take lightly. So I created a list that you can use to make sure you make the right decision when you need someone to help you in your home.
Questions to Ask
When you’re hiring a chimney company, you should always ask the following questions before allowing them to come into your home:
- Can the company provide references?
- Does the company carry a valid business liability insurance policy?
- Does the company ensure that a certified chimney technician will be on the job?
If they guarantee all three of those, then you are in a good spot. The technicians don’t necessarily need to be certified by the CSIA, but I do recommend putting in a bit more due diligence before accepting a certification that’s not by the CSIA.
This is because certifications are a tricky thing, especially in an unlicensed industry like ours. Any company can craft a list of job-related questions and sell them as an exam and certify those who pass.
I recommend you take a few extra minutes in your research before making your hiring decision to learn more about the certification the company has. Here are a few tips to make sure the certification is reputable:
- Is the word “certified” just part of the business name or is it an earned designation?
- Is the certifying body a for-profit business or non-profit?
- Does the certification need to be maintained and renewed through continuing education as the industry evolves, or is it well enough to be certified through a one-time exam?
- Is the certifying body well-established or are they relatively new to the scene? New doesn’t mean “bad” but you should make sure the requirements for certification are more or at least equally stringent as those of more established certifications
- Is the mission statement of the certifying body focused on educating and protecting homeowners or is it more focused on making it easier to earn a certification?
- Does holding the certification require following a code of ethics?
If you can answer all of these questions, then I think it will be safe to allow the company in your home to work on your chimney.
Please note that If you are hiring a chimney company to install a cap for you, most of the time, they will need to buy the cap themselves. This is primarily for liability and insurance purposes.
Besides, it’s probably cheaper for them to buy a cap at the dealer discount than for you to buy one at retail cost.
It doesn’t matter if you are in Roanoke, Lynchburg, Blacksburg, or some other city anywhere in the USA — if you have any questions about the safety of hiring a chimney company, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 540-225-2626. I’m happy to help!
Schedule an Appointment
Patriot Chimney has a few CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps that you can trust with your home and family. During your service, you can expect your technician to inspect your chimney with a video camera so we can give a full top-to-bottom, inside out inspection.
We’re licensed, insured, certified, and guarantee you’ll be happy with your service.
Fill out the form below and someone from our office will give you a call to set up a date and time.
Your dedicated technician will arrive at your home on the agreed upon time and get to work!
You’ll be so thrilled that your family is safe and your chimney works perfectly that you tell all your friends!