The best way to enjoy your fireplace is to select the best firewood possible. Many homeowners believe that any type of firewood is good as long as it burns. While any type of wood will burn and produce some heat, selecting the best type of firewood for your fireplace and chimney makes a huge difference in the amount of wood you use and the amount of money you spend each year. That’s worth the extra time and effort finding the right firewood, right?
Things to Avoid
Freshly Cut Logs – Freshly cut wood is still full of sap and moisture. The sap will create a sticky mess everywhere as it drains out, and the moisture content will create creosote as it filters up through the chimney. Freshly cut logs don’t burn as efficiently as seasoned wood.
Wet Logs – Seasoned wood that has been allowed to sit out in the weather unprotected is still full of moisture and should not be used.
Insect Infested Logs – Insects love finding homes in freshly cut wood and in seasoned wood alike. Examine the wood carefully before you purchase it. The last thing you want to do is carry ants or termites into your home and allow them to live there.
Rotting Logs – Tree cutters who sell wood may not always sell all of the wood they harvest through a season. The unsold wood sits until the next season. This is fine as long as the wood is protected from the elements and doesn’t begin to rot.
Softwoods – Softwoods such as pine or poplar create about half the heat as hardwoods. This means you need to burn almost twice as much wood for the same amount of heat. This could lead to much higher heating bills throughout the winter if you burn a lot of wood.
Things to Look For
Seasoned Logs – The term seasoned means that the wood was cut at least 6 months to a year ago and is dry. Seasoned wood may have moisture content of up to 25% but no higher.
Hardwoods – Look for hardwoods such as oak, maple, or birch. Birch bark is lovely and looks really pretty stacked and waiting to be used. Hardwoods put off more heat because they are a denser wood than softwoods. They produce more intense heat and burn longer than softwoods.
Size – Cut the logs to fit your fireplace or wood burning stove. It should fit comfortably in the firebox and not protrude too much in any direction.
Storage – Split the wood before stacking it so it’s in the perfect size chunks. Stack the logs with space between them so they continue to dry out while waiting to be burned. Store them in a specific room, woodshed, or under a tarp until ready to be used.
Don’t Forget Your Chimney Inspection
The yearly chimney inspection is probably the most important thing you can do to protect your home and family from unintentional harm. Schedule your chimney inspection for the same time you plan to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detector so you can rest assured that everything is taken care of on the same day and you’re ready to go for the winter season.