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How to properly store and burn firewood?

Troubleshooting Your Fireplace

There could be many reasons that your fireplace isn’t functioning correctly, and we want to help you solve the problem. Below is a list of potential issues and their respective solutions. Note that this list of problems/solutions is simplified, and a correct understanding of fireplaces requires an expert-level knowledge of airflow patterns.

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Quality firewood will help your wood stove burn cleaner and more efficiently. Green and wet wood can cause smoking problems, odor problems, and rapid creosote buildup.

Freshly cut firewood contains 45% water, while well-seasoned firewood generally contains about 20%-25%. Seasoned firewood produces more heat, and is easier to start. If your wood is cut six months to a year in advance and stored correctly, the sun and wind will naturally season it for you. If you burn green wood, the heat produced by combustion must dry the wood before it burns, using up most of the energy in the process.

Bad storage can ruin even well-seasoned firewood. If exposed to constant rain or snow, it will reabsorb large amounts of water making it unable to be burned. It is best if the wood is stored off the floor and away from moisture when weather threatens.

Below are top firewood tips from the Chimney Safety Institute:

  • It is imperative that the fuel be dry as possible.

  • Do not burn any construction scraps of treated or painted wood, especially treated wood from decks or landscaping ties. The chemicals used can release dangerous amounts of arsenic and other very toxic compounds in your house.

  • If the "seasoned wood" you bought turned out to be pretty green, and you elected to try to burn it, be sure to have the chimney checked more often than usual, you may build up creosote very quickly. You don't have to burn only premium hardwoods. Less dense woods like elm and even soft maple are abundant and make excellent firewood as long as you're willing to make a few extra trips to the woodpile.

  • If you have access to a variety of species, learn to manage your woodpile. Save the more dense fuel for the coldest months and use the "lighter" wood for kindling fires and during the spring or fall when you don't need as much heat.

  • Many people also have questions about burning artificial logs. Convenience is their strong suit, and in general, they are fine when time is an issue, and you want a quick fire without all the muss and fuss of natural firewood. Usually, they should be burned only one at a time and just in an open fireplace. One should be careful about poking them and moving them around once they are burning since they may break up and the fire may get a bit out of control. Be sure to read the directions on the package carefully.

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