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Finding Properly Seasoned Firewood

Whether you have an insert, a stove, or an open fireplace, your fire will only be as good as your firewood. Even if you have a high-efficiency appliance, your wood will determine just how efficient it is. It’s important to choose the best firewood, to make sure it’s properly seasoned, and make sure that it’s right for your needs.

Firewood and its Many FormsFinding Properly Seasoned Firewood Image - Seattle WA - Pristine Sweeps

There are many species of trees in America, and nearly all of them are used for firewood by. Professional firewood dealers may keep a stock of soft and hard species, but most will stick with hard. Hardwood has more energy content, so it burns longer and hotter than softer wood, but that isn’t as important as the moisture content.

Properly Seasoned Wood

When a tree is cut down, it can have up to 45 percent moisture content. This will make the wood difficult to burn, produce less heat, and create more pollution, soot, creosote, and ash. In order for your wood to burn hot, your chimney to work efficiently, and to avoid excess grime in your system, burn only properly seasoned wood. This means the wood has been cut and set aside to dry for 3-6 months so the moisture content is only 20-25 percent. When you burn properly seasoned wood, your fireplace will be safer, your chimney will vent better, and you will avoid a smoky, smelly fireplace.

Not sure if your wood is ready? We’ve got the ultimate checklist to keep you in check:

  • Does the wood have checks (cracks along the edges)? This cracking will occur as the wood dries and is a good indicator that it’s ready.
  • Does the bark pull away or fall off the wood?
  • Is the wood easy to split? As the wood dries, it will become easier to split. When you split it, if the interior wood feels wet, it’s not ready to burn yet.
  • Has the wood changed in color to a duller gray instead of tan or brown? Color change means dry.
  • Is the wood light and produces a hollow noise when two pieces are hit together (instead of a dull thud)?
  • Does it burn well? If the wood is difficult to light and burns poorly, it may still be too wet to burn. Go outside and look at the smoke coming from the chimney. If it’s dense and white, the wood may be too green to burn. The best fire makes smoke that you can see through.

Buying Seasoned Firewood

Not everyone has a readily accessible supply of forest to cut firewood from. If you don’t have access to timber, you can still burn the proper firewood. There are many local suppliers that supplement their income by selling firewood. The trick is to choose someone who sells seasoned firewood, and who does so at a fair price. Don’t pay too much for firewood, especially if it’s too green to burn! Search on your local online marketplace for a supplier, and if possible, read some reviews. Check out the wood before making your purchase, and make sure it’s properly seasoned.

If you’ve found properly seasoned wood, and your fireplace is still performing poorly, you may have a bigger problem. Contact Pristine Sweeps to assess your system today so that you can get back to enjoying your fireplace.

By Aaron Woodward | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Fire Safety Tips

While fireplaces are a beautiful addition to any home, it is important to remember that fire itself can still be dangerous. Because of this, fire safety tips should be followed anytime the fireplace is in use. By following these eight fire safety tips, your family and friends can safely enjoy relaxing in front of a roaring fire.

Fire Safety Tips - Seattle WA - Pristine Sweeps

1. Only burn seasoned firewood

Seasoned firewood is wood that has been chopped, stacked, and allowed to dry out in the elements for at least six months. Doing this reduces the moisture content in the wood and helps it ignite quicker, burn hotter, and produce less smoke. To get the most out of your fire, burn seasoned hardwoods like oak, beech, maple, and ash.

2. Open the damper

The damper should be completely open any time the fireplace is in use; this includes when first lighting kindling or letting a fire extinguish. Opening the damper prevents smoke and gasses such as carbon monoxide from blowing back into your home.

3. Clean out old ash

The firebox should be cleaned out after each fire to remove soot and ash; the amount of ash buildup in the firebox should always be kept to one inch or less. More ash than this can restrict air supply to the fire and prevent complete combustion.

4. Crack a window

When using the fireplace, crack a nearby window one to two inches. Doing so can prevent your home from being airtight and provide oxygen to keep the fire burning strongly.

5. Keep children and pets away

While the whole family can enjoy time spent around the fireplace, small children and pets should never be left alone or unsupervised around the fireplace. Glass doors, grates, baby gates, and other safety barriers can be used to keep little hands – or paws – away from the heat and flames of the fire.

6. Move décor off the mantle

Keep low hanging or flammable décor off of the mantle to avoid accidental fires caused by stray sparks or embers. Curtains, furniture, and other décor should also be kept at least three feet away from the fireplace.

7. Check fire alarms

Fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on every floor of your home, including outside sleeping areas and near any fuel-burning appliances. Alarms should be tested once every six months and replaced every five to seven years to stay up to date with current safety standards.

8. Call a chimney sweep

Regular chimney maintenance such as chimney sweepings and inspections can reduce your risk for chimney fire and make sure your fireplace is burning safely and efficiently. Even if you do not regularly use your fireplace annual maintenance is important; unused fireplaces may be home to birds, squirrels, or other animals that have unintentionally created chimney blockages.

Relaxing in front of the fire is meant to be a shared experience; by following these fire safety tips, your friends and family can enjoy spending time together around a roaring fire for years to come. For more information on fire safety or to schedule your next chimney services, contact Pristine Sweeps today.

By Aaron Woodward | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment