March is a transition month most years. The very worst winter has to offer often happens in early March with heavy wet snowstorms and, for the most part, the end of March starts to usher in the warmth of spring and mud season.
March also changes the way we operate our heating appliances. Modern oil burners keep the heat output the same and automatically adjust the time they need to run to keep the home warm. Propane and electric heating appliances operate pretty much the same. However, wood burning appliances take a little more thought.
We respond to several chimney fires in March because of warmer days. Wood stoves control their heat output with dampers that allow more or less air into the burn chamber. The more air, the hotter the fire will be. Less air, and a cool fire box will make more smoke that is very slowly going up the chimney.
This relatively cold, slow-moving smoke becomes the ingredient that makes creosote along the walls of the chimney. This flammable gooey mess only needs a few sparks from your wood stove to set the material in the chimney on fire.
Experienced firemen can smell a chimney fire as we approach your home by the unique odor. To prevent this from happening, use much less wood each time and run a small hot fire during the spring heating season. The fire will warm your home and then burn off as coals with very little, if any, smoke. Most experienced firewood users are constantly making adjustments to the amount and kind of wood they burn depending on the weather.
One more point on wood stoves. If you “think” that you are having a chimney fire, you are! Call 911. We have lots of modern toys that will show us if you really do have a chimney fire. If you don’t we will go home. If you do, well, aren’t you glad you called!
Get Your Sump Pump Ready
Another great fact of late March is that the snow is melting and the ground is thawing. The smell of sweet mud is in the air, along with ominous sounds of water trickling into your basement.
There is nothing nice about a flooded basement. Now is the time to lessen your risk by checking your sump pump. Clean out the pump end and test it while you have time to make repairs.
A great insurance policy is a brand new sump pump sitting on your shelf. You will be glad you did.
March is also the time of boiling sap to make golden maple syrup. This wonderful tradition is unique to our part of North America. Please get out and enjoy this special place we get to call home.