No matter how advanced home heating options become, there will never be anything quite like snuggling up in front of a crackling fireplace on a cold day. There's something comforting about the sound, smell, and feel of a real fire. That alone is a good reason to install a fireplace to supplement your home heating system. If used correctly, a fireplace can also help you cut down on your electric bill by decreasing your reliance on fossil fuels. Possibly the biggest part of using a fireplace correctly has to do with the way that you choose and use your firewood. Take a look at some important firewood tips that can help you get the most out of your new fireplace.
Invest in a Moisture Meter
You have probably heard that you should not use green or unseasoned wood in your fireplace. Freshly cut wood has far more water in it than seasoned wood, and this will produce more smoke and less heat. If you're cutting and storing your own firewood, it helps to have some way to tell whether or not the wood has reached the appropriate moisture level before you burn it. Even if you're using purchased wood that lists the moisture level on the label, it doesn't hurt to be able to check to make sure the label is accurate.
Luckily, it's easy to check the moisture level of wood. All you need is an instrument called a moisture meter. Just split three of four of the logs you want to use down the middle, push the meter's pins into each of the logs three times, once at each end and once in the middle of the split, and average the readings for the selection of logs that you're testing. Your wood's moisture content should be at 25% or less, and in ideal conditions should be around 15%.
Store Wood Properly
Proper storage of your firewood is at least as important as choosing the right firewood. If your firewood is exposed to moisture, like rain or snow, it will easily reabsorb as much water as it lost during the seasoning process.
The best place to store wood is in a woodshed, but if you don't have one, there are still ways to keep your wood safe. Stack it in a pile in a sunny location and make sure to elevate it off of the ground to protect the pieces on the bottom from sitting in moist soil or grass. Cover the stack with a tarp on rainy or snowy days. Make sure that you uncover the pile on sunnier days, as the wood needs circulation to season properly. Don't store too much wood in close proximity to the house. It can attract termites, and you don't want them having an easy path to your walls. You can keep a small amount of wood within easy reach, but the bulk of it should be kept a distance away from the home. In any case, never stack your wood up against your exterior walls.
Choose the Right Type of Wood
Is all firewood created equally, as long as it's seasoned properly? Maybe not. The wood from different tree species is all chemically similar, but different species do vary in density, and density can have an important effect on how the fire burns. The denser the wood, the more energy it contains, and the hotter and longer it will burn. Dense woods are good for the hot, long-burning fires that you need to keep the cold away all night long during a snowstorm. If you need this type of fire, choose a hardwood, like maple or oak.
On the other hand, soft woods like spruce and pine that are less dense don't burn as hot or for as long, but that doesn't mean that you won't have any use for them. If you want the fire more for temporary ambience than heat, choosing a soft wood will give you a fire that isn't uncomfortably hot and will burn itself out in a short time.This may be a good choice when you want to set the mood for a date, but don't want to overdo the heat or keep the fireplace going all night long.
By making sure your firewood is properly seasoned, storing it properly, and selecting the right type of wood for your needs, you'll be able to enjoy safe and efficient fires all through the winter season. Contact a company like Alpine Fireplaces for further tips.
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