Addressing Your Firewood Questions
Do you use a wood-burning fireplace? From selecting and buying firewood to storing and seasoning it, the wood you use can have a huge impact on how well your fires burn, how much heat you get, and how much buildup your chimney faces. We’ve got the answers to all your firewood-related questions here.
Q: Why should I use only seasoned wood?
A: Freshly cut wood can be up to 45% water, while well-seasoned firewood generally has 15-25% moisture content. Wood with less water is easier to start, produces more heat, and burns cleaner. If you burn green wood, the heat produced by combustion has to dry the wood out first before it will burn. The end result is less heat delivered to your home, along with literally gallons of acidic water in deposited in your chimney – which results in higher levels of creosote.
Using quality, well-seasoned firewood will help your wood stove or fireplace burn cleaner and more efficiently, significantly reducing your risk of experiencing smoking problems, odors, rapid creosote buildup, and even dangerous chimney fires.
Q: When buying firewood, how can I select the best pieces?
There are a few characteristics to watch for when determining if the wood you’re purchasing is seasoned or not.
- Look to see if the ends are darkened with cracks or splits visible. This indicates the piece has been sitting longer, and the split ends make it dry out faster.
- Aim for pieces that are lightweight and make a clear “clunk” when beat together. Water adds weight, so the lighter and more hollow-sounding, the better!
- Do the pieces seem mustier/older both in look and smell? Good! This is another sign of well-seasoned wood.
- Pieces that are shorter in length will dry out faster, so it’s more likely these have less water than bigger logs.
Firewood is generally sold by volume, the most common measure being the cord. Other terms often employed are face cord, rick, or often just a truckload. A standard cord of firewood is 128 cubic feet of wood, generally measured as a pile 8 feet long by 4 feet tall by 4 feet deep. A face cord is also 8 feet long by 4 feet tall, but it is only as deep as the wood is cut. Which means a face cord of 16″ wood actually is only 1/3 of a cord, 24″ wood yields 1/2 of a cord, and so on.
Q: Do you have some ideal storage tips?
A: Well-seasoned firewood can be ruined by bad storage. If your pile is exposed to constant rain or always covered in snow, the wood will reabsorb large amounts of water, making it unfit to burn and causing it to rot long before it can be used. Wood should be stored off the ground and protected from excess moisture with a tarp or roof when threatening weather arrives.
The ideal situation is to have a wood shed. This is a shed especially for storing wood where there is a roof but the sides are either open or loose. This lets sunshine in and allows for plenty of air circulation – both of which are needed to promote faster drying.
No shed? The next best thing would be to keep the wood pile in a sunny location and cover it on rainy or snowy days with a waterproof tarp of some kind – just make sure the cover is removed during fair weather to allow air movement and avoid trapping in moisture.
Also don’t forget that your woodpile also looks like heaven to termites, so it’s best to keep only a week or so worth of wood near the house in easy reach. Once properly seasoned, wood can be expected to last 3 or 4 years if necessary.
Q: How long should I store my firewood?
A: All wood should be stored for 6 months or more before you burn it.
Why? Wood is filled with microscopic tubes that were used to transport water from the roots of the tree to the leaves. These tubes can stay full of water for a long time, which is why cutting your firewood to length and seasoned it for a lengthy time is so imperative. Once the tube ends are open and exposed, the water only has to travel a foot or two to drain. Splitting the wood helps, too by exposing more surface area of the wood to the sun and wind.
Reach Out for More Info
Need more info about storing or buying firewood? We’re here to help. Simply give us a call or reach out online – our knowledgeable techs have got you covered.