You love your wood-burning fireplace. It offers a cozy place for you and your family to gather around to share some laughter, fellowship, and maybe a few cups of hot cocoa. The ambiance that it creates in your home is second to none. If you love your fireplace, you probably take good care of it with annual cleaning and maintenance. However, did you know that if you own a wood-burning appliance that there is another important factor that plays into your fireplace’s health? The type of firewood that you burn can have a big impact on how well your fires burn, how clean your chimney stays, and the longevity of your masonry.
At The Chimney Guy, we only use firewood that has gone through a process called seasoning in our fireplaces. We want to let you know why seasoning your firewood is so important for your fireplace and how to tell if your firewood is properly seasoned.
It doesn’t really matter what type of wood you prefer to burn, it needs to be seasoned properly before you use it in your fireplace. Seasoning is the process of drying out your firewood for use in your fireplace. This is done by cutting, splitting, stacking, and allowing at least six months and preferably a year for your firewood to dry.
Why is it important to season my wood?
Seasoning your firewood is important for reasons related to fireplace safety and fireplace performance. Freshly cut wood has a moisture content of about 45%. When there is that much moisture in your firewood, it can be hard to ignite. Then, even if it does ignite, it can be very smokey. The reason moisture-rich firewood smokes so much is that it can’t get hot enough to burn off secondary compounds in the wood. When your firewood smokes too much, it can speed up the rate at which creosote builds up in your chimney. This will prevent proper airflow in your chimney and can increase the chances of a chimney fire. Another issue when firewood moisture levels are high is that your firewood is more likely to pop. When firewood pops, it sends hot embers outside of the firebox and into areas around your fireplace.
Properly seasoned firewood will have a moisture content around 20-25%. Firewood that has been properly seasoned is easier to ignite and it burns a lot cleaner. This means that your fires will produce less smoke and burn hotter and more efficient.
How do I season my firewood?
After you cut and split your firewood, it should be stacked a few inches off the ground to prevent it from gathering moisture. A wooden pallet or shallow pile of rocks makes a good place to stack firewood because it allows air to move under your pile. Use a waterproof tarp to keep your firewood dry, leaving the sides of your stack open to allow for airflow, will aid in seasoning your firewood. Finally, all you need to do is wait for at least six months before you can start checking to see if your firewood is seasoned.
There are a couple of things you can do to check if your firewood is ready for the fireplace. First, check to see if there are cracks or gaps along at the ends of your firewood. Cracked ends are a sign that your firewood is dry. You can also bang two pieces of firewood together and listen to see if they make a hollow sound. This is also a sign that your firewood is dry. Finally, seasoned firewood will feel a lot lighter and less dense than unseasoned wood.
Using seasoned firewood is safer and can cut down on maintenance and cleaning costs. If you have any questions about what type of firewood to burn, don’t hesitate to give The Chimney Guy a call at 920-830-1920 or contact us online to ask about how we can help you keep your fireplace and chimney working for you all winter long.