Burn Season – What it Means & How to Prepare for It
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.