For years we have been trying to promote off season service and cleanings and it has caught on quite a bit, as an incentive from May, June, and July we offer a $50 savings off our standard service or chimney cleaning rates.
Hearth appliances, like any other appliance need to be maintained to ensure proper operation. The warmer spring and summer months are a time when most people aren’t thinking about their wood, gas, or pellet stoves. Most of the time as the weather warms up and the units aren’t burning people tend to forget about them.
Every year right around end of Sept. or early Oct. we get flooded with calls for service, cleanings, pilot lighting’s, things like that and our schedule at that time gets really crowded and the wait is sometimes a long time. The end of the burning season is actually the best time for service especially on wood stoves and chimney cleanings. The units are not in use and are cold so taking a break from burning to allow for the cleaning isn’t a problem. After the burn season our sweeps can not only clean the chimney but also inspect the stove for anything that may have happened during the winter.
If there are repairs to be made, the warmer months are the best time to do them. Sometimes parts are not in stock and have to be ordered, doing the repairs when the stove is not being used makes sense since then the wait for parts wouldn’t be a concern. Wood stoves and inserts should have the chimney cleaned once a year depending on usage. Obviously if you don’t use the unit much that time frame can stretch. The opposite is true if you use the unit as a primary heater, or like many in Sonoma County, the unit is in operation everyday you may have to clean the chimney twice a year.
A general rule for chimney cleaning is have the system cleaning every two cords of wood burned through the unit. Again not all woods are the same, some burn dirtier than others, but if you are operating your stove correctly and burning it hot the two cords of woods method is usually a safe one. The same thing goes for gas stoves, most people will turn off the pilot light at the start of the summer to keep the unit cool (the heat from the pilot light will keep the glass hot and put some unwanted heat into the room), getting the unit serviced prior to the shutdown is a good thing to do.
If you shut the unit down without doing an inspection or service, any problems that do exist will remain hidden until you need the unit most, when it gets cold. Service timing on gas units is a little different, natural gas units need a little less cleaning than propane burning appliances since propane is a dirtier burning fuel and leaves off a carbon residue.
We recommend every two years for general service on gas units that we supply if there isn’t any obvious operation issues. Gas units are designed to operate the same each and every time that you turn them on, so you notice a change in flame pattern, smell, or ignition delay, it is probably a good indicator that a service is needed.
Pellet stoves are again a little different. A pellet stove or insert is a heat machine, with machine being an important term. Pellet stoves have three working motors and fans. The byproduct of pellets is dust. Dust is an electrical components arch enemy. We recommend that pellet stove owners get the unit professionally service once a season and that they do self cleanings at least once a month (be sure to unplug the pellet unit before servicing).
Bottom line is the summer months are the best time for end of season fixes and preventative maintenance for hearth appliances. If you plan ahead and get it done you will not have to worry that your heater wont work when you need it.