Our Company Blog

The Importance of Properly Seasoned Firewood for Wood burning Appliances

FireSide Hearth & Home knows nothing is better than a warm and cozy fire inside when those cold Michigan nights lurk right outside your door. However, we want you to know when you use a wood burning appliance, regardless of where you live, it is extremely important to use properly seasoned wood.

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Anatomy of Wood

Mother Earth News, the original guide to living wisely offers this lesson, “Wood is essentially a mass of tiny long tubes, or cell cavities, that run the length of the tree. Moisture exists both as “free water” in these cavities and as molecular water that is locked in the cell walls. When a tree is felled, the slow process of drying begins, and the free water is the first to evaporate. Once the free water evaporates, the moisture content of the wood is around 30 percent. This is called the ‘fiber saturation point.’ After this, water begins to leave the cell walls, and the wood starts to shrink and crack. For optimal burning, firewood should be dried, or “seasoned,” until its moisture content is less than 20 percent.”

When Is Wood Considered Seasoned?

There are several ways to know whether wood is properly seasoned. Seasoned wood must be dried for at least 6-12 months in a dry place sans moisture from rain, snow, ice. As it dries, the wood it should be stored covered and off the ground. When you compare non-seasoned wood to seasoned wood, you will be able to see various distinctions. Seasoned and green wood have totally different smells, weights, sounds, and appearances. Non-seasoned wood has a damp “fresh” smell, is heavier in both weight and sound, and appears green under its bark. In comparison, seasoned wood is much lighter (the moisture has been drawn out), the bark easily lifts off or is no longer attached, and when you thump the pieces, seasoned wood sounds hollow.

Why Seasoned Wood?

Wood that is still green and has a high moisture content impacts both the efficiency of your wood burner as well as your health and safety. Green wood does not burn as hot as seasoned wood. Fires that are not burning hot enough cause creosote to build up. Creosote is extremely combustible; built up creosote can quickly and unexpectedly ignite and put you, your family, and your home in a fire hazard situation. There are also health considerations as creosote and carbon monoxide as by-products of burning unseasoned wood present potential life ending consequences. Did you know that mold accumulates in unseasoned wood and that mold (a known serious health hazard) is dispersed throughout your home when it is burned.

Green wood also causes damage to your appliance. Water does not burn and if the wood you are using has a high moisture content, your appliance must work extra (and inefficiently) hard to draw heat from the wood. As a result burning improper wood also affects the functionality and longevity of your appliance, as well as necessitates the need for more frequent inspections and cleanings.

To summarize, we encourage everyone with a wood burning appliance to heed the message from the Environmental Protection Association in their pamphlet “Wet Wood Is A Waste- Burn Dry Firewood to Save Money and Health”.

Choosing the Right Fuel Source for Heating Your Home

Choosing the right fuel source (wood, gas, or electric) to heat your home is an important step in picking a fireplace. There are many factors to take into consideration when choosing your fuel source. FireSide Hearth and Home offers electric, natural gas, and wood burning fireplaces for inside the home. Before you get started, let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages to each fireplace type.

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Electric Fireplaces

Electric fireplaces are a great choice if you lack space or viable venting placement options. Electric fireplaces produce no combustion byproducts and can be installed almost anywhere in your home. Modern electric fireplaces are very beautiful and an amazing option to an actual wood burning fireplace. Electricity is also available in every home, so you do not have to worry about installing the necessary equipment to bring a new fuel source into your home.

However, it is important to check electricity prices in your area. In the winter, it can be more expensive to heat your home with electricity than is would be to heat with natural gas or wood.

Gas Fireplaces

Natural gas fireplaces are very convenient and popular with fireplace owners. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association has found that nearly 70% of hearth products in use today are burning gas. Gas fireplaces are convenient because they turn on and off with a switch or a knob. They also heat up your home very quickly.

For a natural gas fireplace, your home must be hooked up to a municipal gas supply. If your home does not already have a hook up, this would add some extra cost to your new fireplace. Gas heating systems are larger than electric systems and require ventilation equipment to dispel the toxic gases including CO2 that are produced during the combustion process. It is also important to check natural gas prices in your area.

Wood Fireplaces

Wood fireplaces are great to have when electricity goes down and in general, wood fuel is less expensive than both electricity and natural gas. Buying wood from neighbors helps promote the local economy and arguably, wood burning homeowners tend to pay more attention to their energy consumption. Wood is also considered a renewable resource because the carbon dioxide released by wood fireplaces is recycled back into young trees

Many people believe wood burning fireplaces are less efficient and are a significant cause of air pollution especially during the winter. Wood stoves are also considered less safe.
It must be noted that all the issues, listed above, with wood burning fireplaces are all but nonexistent with newer wood burning fireplace models. Newer fireplaces can burn with 80% efficiency and are extremely safe.

We Make Your Choice Easy

The experts at FireSide Hearth & Home can help you find the perfect fireplace for your home. All we need to know is your preferences, your vision, and the space available. Our NFI-Certified installers with make sure your electric, gas, or wood burning fireplace and any attached venting system is planned and installed properly. Our experts will follow manufacturer’s specifications and make sure that your system is installed for maximum safety and performance. We are also happy to educate you on proper fireplace care so that your fireplace remains safe.

If you need a new appliance or fireplace accessory installed in your home, give us a call at (855) 769-8183 or stop by and see us! We’re here to help!