Firewood Prep & Storage Image - Crofton MD - Clean Sweep AAThe perfect fall fire begins with the right wood. Properly seasoned and stored firewood burns hotter and more efficiently; that means your fireplace returns more heat to your home and your chimney won’t dirty as quickly. So how do you make sure that your firewood is ready for your fireplace or wood-stove?

Season your firewood

Freshly cut wood has a water content of 45 percent. To have it ready for your fireplace, your wood needs to have a water content between 20 and 25 percent. There are a few steps you can take to lower the water content — or season — your firewood.

  • Cut your wood into logs that is approximately three inches shorter than your firebox.
  • Split larger logs to a 3- to 6-inch diameter.
  • Stack the wood off the ground, preferably in a sunny spot. Make sure that it is loosely packed enough so air can circulate around and dry the wood.

It generally takes six months to one year of storage for firewood to become properly seasoned, though some species of hardwoods can take up to two years of drying. If you have been waiting for wood that you cut to season, or if you purchased firewood, you will be able to tell if it’s ready to burn when the wood turns from a buttery color to gray, when the bark becomes looser and when it begins to crack. The wood will feel lighter, and if you strike two pieces together, you will hear a drum-like sound. If you burn a piece of properly seasoned firewood, it will crackle pleasantly. Wood whose moisture content is still too high will hiss and smoke when burned.

Properly store your seasoned firewood.

Once firewood has been fully seasoned, you will need to store it properly so that it doesn’t reabsorb moisture, mold or decay, or introduce pests to your home. There are some guidelines to follow to help protect your woodpile.

  • Keep your woodpile off of the ground. This will help prevent the wood from reabsorbing water from the ground, and it will help keep pests away from the woodpile.
  • Keep your woodpile covered. While it is alright to store a seasoning woodpile exposed to the elements, a seasoned woodpile should be covered to prevent rain and snow from introducing moisture to the wood.
  • Store wood away from your home. It can be tempting to stack wood conveniently in a garage or against the wall of your home for easy access. However, this can introduce termite or other pests to your home. For that reason, you should never bring more than a day’s worth of wood into your home.
  • Stack wood loosely. Packing wood too tightly can allow decay to set in to your woodpile.

Properly seasoned and stored firewood is just one component of preparing your fireplace or wood stove for the fall and winter fire-burning season. Your fireplace and chimney also should be swept and inspected to make sure they are clean and sound for a season full of fires. If you’re due for a chimney sweeping and inspection, call Clean Sweep of Anne Arundel County today! We can answer any questions about the proper wood to use in your fireplace or stove.