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It’s Almost Burn Season; Find the Best Firewood!

As summer draws to a close, homeowners are beginning to make their preparations for fall and winter. If you have a wood-burning fireplace or heating stove, that means that you’ll be investing in fuel for your hearth. The right firewood can make all the difference in a wood-burning fireplace or stove. For homeowners looking to heat their homes with wood, the right wood will burn hotter and more efficiently, meaning you will need less of it to keep your home cozy. For homeowners who want to enjoy the ambiance of a wood fire, the right firewood means less smoke and less dangerous buildup within your chimney. So what makes good firewood? And how can you be sure that’s what you’re getting?

So what makes good firewood? And how can you be sure that’s what you’re getting? Make sure the wood has been seasoned.

Make sure the wood has been seasoned.

The most important consideration when looking for firewood is that wood has been properly seasoned. That means the wood has been stored for a minimum of six months so that the natural water content of the tree has had time to evaporate out of the wood. Seasoned firewood burns hot, cleanly and efficiently. When the wood hasn’t had time to dry out adequately, the water trapped inside the logs will boil and steam. That cools down the temperature of your fire and creates a lot of smoke, which leads to an excess of creosote buildup within your chimney.

Look for hardwoods.

Hardwoods — like maple, ash, elm, birch, hickory, and cherry, to name a few — are favored by people who are serious about heating their homes with wood. That’s because these hardwoods are dense, and they burn hot and for longer periods of time. As you look for wood, aim to fill your woodpile primarily with hardwoods. Softer woods can be burned, but it’s generally recommended that they are mixed in with hardwoods.

Ask about storage.

Choosing the right hardwoods and making sure that the wood has been thoroughly seasoned isn’t enough; you have to make sure the wood also has been properly stored. When wood isn’t protected from the elements or elevated off of the ground, it can reabsorb moisture and begin to mold or rot. If you are purchasing or accepting wood from someone else, make sure they have properly stored the wood to make sure you’re not going to be stuck with wet, decaying firewood that won’t burn well.

Inspect the wood.

A quick inspection of the wood should let you know whether you’ve found the right firewood. Wood that has been properly seasoned and stored with be a dull, gray color; the bark will be pulling away from the wood; and the wood might be cracked in places. When struck together, the wood will make a hollow noise. When you do burn the wood, it should ignite quickly and make a pleasant crackling sound as it burns.

Finding the right firewood means you’ll have a successful wood-burning season, full of warm, crackling fires that heat your home safely and efficiently. Make sure you find the right firewood this fall so you get the most out of your fireplace! And as part of your preparation for the fire-burning season, don’t forget to schedule your chimney sweeping appointment with Total Chimney Care!

By Steve Sobczak on September 1st, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Properly season your firewood

Correctly Seasoned Firewood Image - Fairfield & New Haven CT - Total Chimney CareGetting the most out of your fireplace means using the right fuel for a clean, efficient fire. For your wood-burning fireplace, that means burning only properly seasoned firewood. So how can you ensure that your firewood is properly prepped and seasoned for your fireplace?

Properly seasoning your firewood

To properly season your firewood, you have to cut it, stack it and store it in a way that allows the moisture content of the wood to drop from around 45 percent to less than 20 percent. To properly cure your wood:

  • Cut logs to fit your fireplace. The right log length will vary from fireplace to fireplace. Logs should be approximately three inches shorter than your firebox.
  • Split your wood. To season your firewood, you also need to split it to an appropriate thickness. Logs should be six inches in diameter or less. Logs or branches that are already thin can be left whole.
  • Stack your wood loosely. Once your logs have been cut and split to the appropriate size, they should be loosely stacked. While firewood is seasoning, it should be stacked in a place where it is exposed to sunlight and wind, which will help to dry out the wood. At this point, the wood does not need to be covered. Let the wood dry for at least six months.
  • Store your wood properly. Once the wood has been fully seasoned, it must be properly stored so that it won’t reabsorb moisture. The wood should be stacked off of the ground preferably in a sheltered area. If you don’t have a sheltered area in which to store your wood, the wood should be securely covered with a tarp.

Knowing your firewood has been properly seasoned

Burning wood that hasn’t been properly seasoned results in a colder, inefficient fire that can cause creosote to build up at a dangerously rapid rate within your chimney. That’s why it’s important to check your firewood to see if it has been properly seasoned, whether you cut the firewood yourself or you’ve purchased the firewood pre-seasoned from someone else.

If logs are properly seasoned, they should feel light in weight for their size. The wood should be dark gray or brown in color, rather than a creamy white. The wood should be cracked and pulling away from the bark. When struck together, two pieces of properly seasoned firewood will make a hollow “thud.” When you light a fire, you will quickly be able to tell that your firewood has been fully seasoned. Seasoned firewood lights easily. Once burning, it will pop and crackly pleasantly and won’t issue an abundance of smoke. In contrast, wood that still contains too much water will be difficult to light, will hiss as it burns and will billow heavy blue smoke.

When you know your firewood has been properly seasoned, you can be sure that you’ll get maximum heat and efficiency from your fireplace. You can also rest assured knowing that your fire isn’t rapidly filling your chimney with dangerous and flammable creosote.

Be ready to use your seasoned firewood by ensuring your fireplace is safe to use. Contact Total Chimney Care for your chimney and fireplace inspection.

By Steve Sobczak on December 21st, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Only Burn Seasoned Firewood

Operating a wood-burning fireplace seems fairly straightforward. You build your fire, open the damper, and ignite the wood. However, you also must consider what you are burning in your fireplace. Make sure you are burning only seasoned firewood in your fireplace or wood stove. This helps your fireplace burn safely and efficiently. Why season your firewood? Let’s take a look.

Seasoned firewood: A definition

For those who are new to operating a wood-burning fireplace or heating stove, seasoned firewood is wood that has been properly dried or “cured” to prepare it for home heating. When wood is first cut, its moisture content is high. To have it ready for your fireplace, the moisture content must be lowered from its starting point of around 45 percent to a moisture content between 20 and 25 percent.

season-firewood-before-burning-only-burn-seasoned-firewood-new-haven-fairfiled-ct-total-chimney-specialists-w800-h600Why seasoned firewood matters

Unseasoned firewood can cause several problems in a fireplace. First, it can be difficult to ignite. Second, when a wood’s moisture content is too high, it won’t burn hotly and efficiently. Instead, the water inside will boil and steam. Because of its low burn temperature, unseasoned firewood produces a lot of smoke. Therefore, a fire built from unseasoned firewood leads to a faster than normal buildup of creosote within your chimney.

How to properly season firewood

Whether you purchase your firewood or chop it yourself, there are some steps you will need to take to make sure it seasons properly. First, cut logs to the appropriate length, about 3 inches shorter than your firebox. Larger logs also should be split to a width of 6 inches. Once wood is split, it should be loosely stacked. It also should be off the ground, in a place exposing it to the sun and wind. While it is being seasoned, it is best to leave the woodpile uncovered. This is so the air and sun can help the wood to dry. Depending on the variety of wood that has been cut, it will take six months to a year for the wood to be fully seasoned.

Determining if your wood is ready to burn

Once you have cut and stacked your wood and left it to season, you will want to evaluate it to make sure it is dry enough to burn. There are wood moisture meters that will provide you with the accurate moisture content of your firewood. You also should be able to determine if the wood is adequately dry by checking a few things. The wood should be grayish and starting to crack. The wood bark should be pulling away from the wood, and the wood should feel light when lifted. If you are still unsure, burning the wood will make it obvious whether it has been properly seasoned. Fully seasoned firewood burns easily and crackles pleasantly, while firewood that is still too moist will be difficult to light and will hiss and smoke while burning.

And remember, if you have any questions about the safe and proper operation of your wood-burning fireplace, you can call the chimney and fireplace experts at Total Chimney Care at 203-874-6772!

By Steve Sobczak on September 28th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Burn the right firewood this season

Your chimney is clean, your firewood is stacked and you are ready to add to your home’s warmth this winter with your wood-burning fireplace. Before you light a fire, you should make sure you’re burning the right type of firewood this season to provide the warmest and safest fires possible.Burn the right firewood this season - Milford CT - Total Chimney Care

Properly seasoned firewood

The most important thing you can do to make sure your wood is fire ready is to make sure it has been properly seasoned. Properly seasoned firewood has been allowed to rest for at least six month after being chopped before it’s burned. After a tree is cut, water remains in the series of tubes the nurture the living tree. The weight of a freshly cut log is up to 45 percent water. Properly seasoned firewood, however, has a water content to between 20 and 25 percent.

The importance of properly seasoned firewood

Firewood that hasn’t been properly seasoned burns less efficiently and decreases the amount of heat your fireplace releases into your home. When you burn wet firewood, much of your fire’s energy goes into evaporating the water that remains in the wood. That means your fire is significantly cooler.

That cooler, wet fire also produces a lot of smoke, which introduces more pollution into your home, especially if you have an open-hearth fireplace. The cooler, heavier smoke causes a more dangerous problem, however. Cooler fires with lots of smoke increase creosote buildup within your chimney. Creosote, a highly flammable, sticky substance, is the leading cause of chimney fires.

Tips for properly seasoning your firewood

If you harvest your own firewood, you’ll need to prep it and stack it properly to make sure it’s ready for the fire-burning season. Your tree should be cut into logs that are appropriately sized for your fireplace, generally 3 to 6 inches shorter than the firebox. Then the logs should be split to 3 to 6 inches wide. Stack the split wood in a sunny place where the wind can blow through the woodpile. While your firewood is seasoning, leave it uncovered so the elements can help it dry out. Once the seasoning process is finished, your wood pile should be covered to prevent it from reabsorbing water from rain or snow.

You will be able to tell if your wood is properly seasoned because the wood will be yellow or brown and slightly cracked, and the bark will become loose. Properly seasoned wood will feel lighter, and if you strike two pieces of wood together, you will hear a drum-like sound, rather than a dull thud. The most obvious sign that your firewood still contains too much water is that it lets off a strong hissing sound when burned as the water inside evaporates. Properly seasoned firewood lets a pleasant crackling sound.

While it sounds complicated, properly seasoning your firewood, or making sure that the wood you’ve purchased is properly seasoned, is a simple way to make sure you’re burning the right wood this winter to produce as much heat as possible from your fireplace and keep your family safe.

By Steve Sobczak on December 28th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , | Leave a Comment

Choose Local Firewood for the Upcoming Season

Buying Local Firewood - New Haven Fairfield CT - Total Chimney CareFall has officially arrived, and it is here in full force. Many leaves have already fallen to the ground, and those that have not still cling to the trees, creating a beautifully colored landscape. The winds now have a crisp edge that has everyone searching for a cozy jacket to bundle up in. In addition to enjoying the cool weather and sipping hot apple cider, many people – particularly homeowners – are starting to think about heating their homes, if they have not already switched the heat on. Many Connecticut homes still utilize wood-burning stoves or fireplaces as at least a partial source of heat. That means now is the time to stock up on fuel, meaning bundles and cords of wood.

For some homeowners, choosing and purchasing firewood can be a hassle. There are the questions of where to buy the firewood, whether the purchase is a good deal, and estimating how much you will need to get you through the winter. The amount of wood you need depends on your fireplace, the weather conditions, and how often you plan to use your stove or fireplace. Whether or not the wood you buy is worth the price you pay depends on the individual wood dealer you choose. However, you can know ahead of time where to buy your firewood because where you buy depends on where the dealer gets the firewood from.

You should always inquire about the origins of the firewood before deciding to purchase it. Choose to buy from firewood dealers who only sell firewood from local forests. The reason for this is that every forest contains native species of insects and fungi, all of which cohabitate together with few problems. However, when the firewood from these forests travel to different areas, even a mere few counties away, the native organisms on them travel along too. When you store your firewood outside, these species start to inter mingle. Then, these once native species are introduced to new habitats where they become nonnative species. This could result in devastating consequences for the ecosystem.

One nonnative species that has wreaked havoc on the ecosystem is the Emerald Ash Beetle that originated in Asia. It first appeared in Michigan, where it began terrorizing the ash tree population. Now, ash trees all over the country are being eaten alive and thousands have already died.

In order to avoid devastations like this in the future, firewood must not leave the area it was cut down in. Therefore, avoid traveling long distances to purchase firewood, and avoid traveling long distances to use your firewood. Even transporting just a few bundles of wood can start a nonnative species epidemic in the habitat you visit.

So make sure you are buying locally grown firewood that is well seasoned and ready to burn. Always make sure the firewood is not green and well dried out to burn cleanly in your fireplace.

To speak more about this topic with an expert, contact Total Chimney Care for professional input.

By Steve Sobczak on October 30th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment