5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Chimney this Burn Season


If you’re looking to save some money and energy this year when it gets cold outside, you may want to rely on your fireplace, instead of your thermostat.

But you’ll need to make sure you are using your fireplace to it’s fullest potential.

In some cases, you can use 70% of the normal firewood, while getting the same (and sometimes more) heat output to keep your home warm and comfortable.

Follow these five tips to get the most out of your fireplace this fall and winter.

#1 – Prepare Your Wood Properly

Before burning firewood, you want to make sure that it’s properly dried and seasoned. If you choose to burn green or wet wood, you risk creating excessive smoke. 

That means burning wet wood is basically wasting energy. Here are a few symptoms that you may experience when burning greenwood: 

  • Difficulty getting your fire going and keeping it burning
  • Smoky fires with little flame
  • Dirty glass
  • Rapid creosote buildup in your chimney
  • Low heat output
  • The smell of smoke in your house
  • Short burn times
  • Excessive fuel consumption
  • Blue-gray smoke from the chimney

We know that burning greenwood is not a good thing and can be dangerous. Here’s how you can tell when the wood is seasoned properly: 

  1. Color – seasoned wood is much less vibrant than greenwood
  2. Weight – Seasoned wood doesn’t have as much moisture content and is much lighter than greenwood
  3. Hardness – drying wood makes it much harder. 
  4. Bark – the bark on dry wood is loose, or maybe not even there. 
  5. Cracks – You should be able to see cracks on the dry pieces of wood, extending from the center of the log and reaching towards the edges. You should know that not all dry logs will crack, while some green logs will crack. 
  6. Sound – wet wood will produce a dull thud when struck against another piece. Dry wood will sound hollow. 
  7. Smell – greenwood will smell stronger. As the wood dries, the sappy scent fades to a light woody smell
  8. Split test – you can split the wood to see if it feels dry on the inside. You should also be able to see if the wood is easier to split. Remember, most dried out wood is easier to split than greenwood. 
  9. Flammability – Greenwood will be hard to light. It will smolder and create a lot of smoke. This tells you that it needs more time
  10. Moisture meter – The easiest and last of all is the moisture meter. This easy tool will allow you to check the moisture percentage within the wood. So when in doubt, or even much before that, use a moisture meter!

#2 – Make Sure You Use Local Wood

If you don’t want to cut and season your own firewood, I don’t blame you. It takes a long time and a lot of work. 

But you should be sure to source your firewood from local distributors. 

In addition to cutting down on your carbon footprint, you can also make sure that you are in compliance with state and local ordinances, which may restrict out-of-state firewood. 

The EPA says: “Many states have firewood movement restrictions and/or out of state quarantines due to invasive pests.”

In other words, if you find wood that has been cut and stored more than a few miles away, don’t use it. 

Using firewood that’s had to travel is the number one way to introduce invasive insects or diseases to a new environment. 

Here’s a list of people in Roanoke, Christiansburg, and Lynchburg that you can buy seasoned firewood from: 

#3 – Learn to Build a Good Fire

Starting a fire in your fireplace can be pretty simple. 

But there are ways that you build a strong-burning fire that will create more heat, but with less wood. 

Here are the steps: 

Step 1 – Start Small

Take dry kindling from your seasoned firewood and add to the fireplace. 

Step 2 – Preheat the Chimney

Let the fire from your kindling burn. This should warm up the flue and sort of “activate” the process of letting heat rise. 

Step 3 – Keep Space

Keep space between he firewood as you add more. Maintain a bright and hot fire. Be sure not to smother it. You want to keep enough oxygen circulating through your chimney. 

Watch this video to learn more about building a fire:

#4 – Circulate the Air

The warmth of your fireplace tends to stay pretty close to home. The heat doesn’t seem to venture too far away.

Luckily, this isn’t too hard to fix.

You can move trapped hot air near the ceiling by instaling ceiling fans. Then run them counterclockwise on low speed.

This will push the warm air down and will redirect the warm air into your living space.

That quick fix is usually all you’d need to do to quickly increase the comfort levels and prevent your fire from going to waste!

#5 – Maintain Your Fireplace

The last tip that we have is that you make sure you have a certified chimney technician annually inspect your fireplace and chimney.

A certified technician will be able to check for any gaps, cracks, or creosote buildup that could cause a deficiency in airflow.

A clean chimney provides good draft and reduces the risk of chimney fires.

How to Hire a Chimney Company

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:

  1. Can the company provide references? 
  2. Does the company carry a valid business liability insurance policy? 
  3. 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 mitchell@patriotchimney.net or call me at 540-225-2626. I’m happy to help!

Final Thoughts

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.


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