It’s that time of the year: If you cut and store your own firewood, you’ve likely been hard at work harvesting logs for next winter’s fires. You know it takes about six months of properly storing firewood to have it seasoned — reduced to a moisture content of about 20 percent — and ready for your fireplace.
Stack firewood immediately. Don’t allow your wood to sit in piles in the woods or in a field. This can allow mold to grow on the logs. Moldy logs can degrade your indoor air quality by introducing mold spores.
- Stack wood in a single row, loosely enough to allow the wind to blow through it. It’s best to stack wood off of the ground; you may want to consider purchasing a wood stacker to keep your wood pile elevated. You also can place pallets or two-by-fours under your wood pile to keep your woodpile off of the ground.
- Expose your woodpile to sun and wind. The elements are your friend when it comes to seasoning your firewood. Springs warm sunshine and blowing winds will help reduce the moisture content of your firewood to have it ready for the fall.
- There’s a lot of debate about whether to stack wood bark side up or bark side down. Generally, if you live in an area where a lot of rain is expected, store the wood bark side up. If you have a lot of spring time ground moisture, from melting snow or earlier rains, store the wood bark side down.
- Don’t worry about covering your woodpile. In the early stages of seasoning, you don’t need to worry about covering your wood with a tarp or storing it in a covered area. Even if it rains, the wood still will have plenty of time to properly season before the fall. Once the wood is seasoned, you will want to cover it or move it to a covered area, as it can reabsorb moisture.
Your wood is fully seasoned once its moisture content has been reduced to 20 percent. Obviously, there is no way to measure wood’s moisture content, but there are some signs that your wood is ready to burn. It will have a grayish color, feel lighter and make a hollow “thud” when you bang two pieces together. Wood that is too wet will be difficult to light, “hiss” and produce a lot of thick, bluish smoke. You want to make sure your firewood is fully seasoned, as wet wood burns inefficiently and can cause a rapid buildup of flammable creosote in your chimney.
If you have any questions about preparing your fireplace for the fire-burning season, or about selecting the right wood for your fireplace, call the fireplace experts at FireSide Hearth & Home. We consider it part of our job to educate our customers on fireplace best practices.