Here at Singleton Landscaping & Tree we know that burning wet wood is one of the two top barriers to pleasurable, efficient wood heating (the other is bad chimneys). Your wood heater can only operate with high efficiency and low emissions if your fuel wood has about the right moisture content. Properly seasoned firewood has moisture content of less than 20 per cent and is a pleasure to use.
The symptoms of poor performance related to wet firewood include:
In short, trying to burn wet wood is annoying and wasteful. Many of these problems can be eliminated by burning properly seasoned firewood.
Wood piled like this could rot before it dries enough to burn. Seasoning wood is not just a matter of cutting your wood and throwing it into a pile. Dry wood is the result of specific actions you take. A commercial wood supplier may claim to have wood “cut last summer”, or “two years old” and so on, but if the wood has been heaped in a field or just recently split, it will prevent your heater from performing to its potential. This is particularly true of modern EPA certified stoves, which perform extremely well when given the right fuel.
Properly seasoned wood has another important but less obvious benefit. If you cut and pile firewood right away, mold will not have time to grow. Mold, if it’s allowed to develop, will escape into your home’s environment when you bring the wood inside. Mold is undesirable in modern homes and comes from many sources in addition to firewood, but minimizing its growth and circulation improves comfort and reduces allergic reactions. Stacking and air drying firewood before mold has a chance to grow is a good plan.
To help you achieve a great fuel supply, here are five simple guidelines to follow:
4. Let the wood dry at least six months and preferably longer
Most folks who split their wood and stack it in well-spaced rows find that they can dry their wood in about six months. If you have your wood stacked in early spring it should be ready to put away for winter’s use by October. However, it may need longer than that if you live in a damp maritime climate or use very dense wood like oak, which is notorious for taking a long time to dry. If you burn very hardwood, it is wise to process or buy it in the fall for use the following fall. That way you’ll be sure of having properly seasoned wood.
5. To cover or not?
Some people like to cover the drying wood pile. I do not. I’m basically a lazy guy and putting old steel roofing, plastic sheets or tarps over the pile means that I would have to chase them when the wind blew them off.
The theory behind covering the wood is that it will dry faster because rain will not soak the pieces as they dry. My experience is that the wood is dry enough by the time I want to bring it to my wood shed. Of course I may have to delay my wood shed filling if my dry wood gets rained on. I may have to wait for a few days of sun after a rain to continue stocking my shed, but it’s a great excuse to put off a chore!
If it makes you feel better to cover your wood, do it. If not, just make sure you pile it in the shed after a few days of sun.
The most important rules for preparing good firewood are:
Cut, split and stack the wood in the early spring and let it stand in the sun and wind until it is seasoned. For many people seasoning will take about six months. for others, it will be a full year, depending on climate and wood species.
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