Getting The Most Out Of Your Firewood
There is a TV station in our area that has a very unique broadcast once each year. It happens on Christmas day. The special event is pre-recorded so that everyone at the station can take the day off. Believe it or not, it’s nothing more than a continuous recording of a stack of logs burning in an open fireplace. The station advertised what it was going to do several weeks in advance. When we first heard about the event it caused us to laugh a little – OK a lot! What a nutty idea we thought. But then, on Christmas day – as we were furiously flipping through the channels – there it was. A beautiful brick fireplace filled with flaming logs. Simple, yet elegant. Holiday music accompanied the picture underscoring the event with notes of welcomed cheer. How nice. Isn’t it amazing how we can be so easily mesmerized by a crackling fire, a bird chirping, a soft breeze or a wave gently breaking on the shore?
As we discovered, a recording of such an event can be pleasant – at least. But even better than watching someone else’s fireplace is having your own. And there are ways to insure that your fires are fun to watch, safe – and best of all – cost effective. Here’s how!
On average, most folks burn between one-half and one-and-a-half cords of firewood each year. By the way, a cord of wood is a TIGHTLY PACKED stack of wood that measures 4-feet by 4-feet by 8-feet.
Here are a couple of tips that can help you to save money when purchasing firewood:
- Purchase hardwoods. They burn longer, hotter and cleaner than soft woods.
- If you can, eliminate delivery costs by loading and packing the wood yourself. Is there a strong teenager in your house? How about your neighborhood?
- If you have the storage space in your yard you may want to purchase green wood and season (dry) it yourself. Wood that has been seasoned for a period of one to three years works well. However, burning efficiency improves as seasoning time increases.
TIP: Split logs season faster than whole ones.
It may interest you to know that if there is a forest near your home you may be able to get a permit to cut your own firewood – practically for free. We have done this a couple of times and it is really exciting.
When you get the wood home there are a couple of things that you will want to keep in mind:
- Store the firewood in a covered area to prevent it from getting wet.
- Stack the firewood loosely so that air will easily pass through the pile.
- Stack the firewood away from your house. You can be sure that insects will immediately take up residence there. Stacking the wood away from your house will prevent these unwanted critters from having easy – and hidden – access into your home.
CAUTION: It is extremely important to remember to have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually or after burning one cord of wood – whichever comes first.
You may not realize it, but burning firewood produces air pollution. Yep, just like cars and factories. Hey, smoke is smoke. So, being responsible about what and how you burn can make a big difference to your family, your neighbors and the environment. Here are a few more tips on how to enjoy a warmer and safer fire.
- Never burn green firewood in your fireplace. Green firewood generates more creosote than cured firewood. Creosote sticks to the lining if your chimney. It is flammable and can become explosive if left unchecked.
- Never burn treated lumber. Treated lumber contains poisonous pesticides that become airborne when burned. This could be deadly if you “do inhale”.
- Never burn trash, paper or cardboard in your fireplace. Their floating embers can cause a fire in your home, on your home or at a neighbor’s home. Some trash can burn very hot and cause your fireplace to crack.
- Never burn coal in your fireplace. It emits dangerous chemicals and it often can burn so hot that it can cause the bricks in your fireplace to crack.
- Don’t make a really large fire. Small hot fires produce maximum combustion and minimum pollution.
- Don’t use flammable liquids to start your fire. They are dangerous to use inside the home because they pose the threat of explosion. Also, many flammable liquids will cause the fire to smolder, thus contributing to pollution. Use scraps of paper and kindling for best results.
As soon as you’ve gotten your kindling going, twist together several pieces of paper in the shape of a hot dog. Light one end and hold the flaming paper as near the damper as possible. The small amount of hot air created will cause an air siphon in the chimney and help to prevent smoke from flowing into your home.
Use to large logs with a third smaller log placed between and atop them. The pyramid shaped stack will cause a natural draft that will produce a more efficient fire.
Finally, don’t let embers and ash build-up. They can prevent effective combustion by impairing the free flow of air. Take care of your fireplace and it will take care of you – and for less money too. And, good luck!
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