The key to a successful fire starts with the firewood. To make sure your fireplace is burning at its best this winter, you’ll want to make sure that your firewood is properly stored.
Improperly stored firewood is susceptible to moisture, which can lead to mold and rot. Even if the wood makes it to your fireplace, wet wood creates more smoke, which clogs your chimney faster and increases the danger of a chimney fire. At the very least, wet firewood doesn’t maximize your fireplace’s potential, as much of the heat energy from the fire is wasted in evaporating the water rather than heating your home.
How much space do you need for your firewood?
The amount of wood you need for the winter can take up a lot of storage space. One cord of firewood is 128 cubic feet by volume, meaning when stacked, it would be 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet.
The average home with a woodstove or wood-burning fireplace uses three cords of wood each winter. Of course, that could be more or less depending on how frequently you burn fires, whether you rely on your woodstove or fireplace to help heat your home, and how cold the winter is.
Where should you store your firewood?
First and foremost, you should never keep more than you need for a day or wood inside your home or garage, as insects can travel into your house on your firewood.
Of course, ideal storage for firewood is in a protected space, such as in a barn or woodshed. If you are unable to store your firewood indoors, it should be kept at least 6 inches off the ground with pallets or wood stackers made just for this job. An outdoor wood pile should be at least partially covered with a waterproof tarp.
Your woodpile should not be stacked against your house, as a woodpile could attract pests, such as termites, to your home.
How can you tell if your firewood is dry enough to burn?
As we’ve mentioned, burning wet firewood is dirty, dangerous, and inefficient. But how can you tell if your firewood was adequately dried or if it has picked up additional moisture during storage?
Firewood that is dry and ready for the fireplace will be gray or brown in color, slightly cracked, have lose bark, and will sound hollow when two pieces are struck together. When burned, it will light easily and emit the “crackling” sound associated with fireplaces.
Wet wood, on the other hand, will be creamy white in color, if it hasn’t been seasoned, and will let out a dull thud when two pieces are struck together. Wet firewood will be hard to burn, will hiss as the water boils out of it, and will let off thick, grayish blue smoke.
Follow our storage tips to ensure that your firewood will be kept dry and ready for your fireplace this winter.