Thursday, August 16, 2012

Don’t burn through cash, buy the best firewood this season

INDIANAPOLIS – September and the cooler temperatures of fall are nearly here, and homeowners nationwide will soon begin enjoying the warmth and beauty provided by their homes’ fireplaces.
The following tips for selecting the right kind of firewood this season will help homeowners save money and avoid potentially dangerous chimney conditions.
       Seek out well-seasoned wood. Well-seasoned logs were cut at least 6 months prior to your purchase date, providing ample time for excess water and moisture to evaporate. Seasoned wood typically has a moisture content of 20%. Fresh cut wood can be nearly 50% water. It’s clear which logs will burn more efficiently, providing more heat for longer. Plus dryer wood is less likely to cause the dangerous build up of creosote on your chimney walls, which can be a fire hazard if not seasonally cleaned by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep®.
       The meter doesn’t lie. If there is any doubt as to the dryness of the wood you want to purchase, think about investing in a moisture meter. Available at just about any home improvement or hardware store, a meter can quickly indicate the moisture content of a log and save you the trouble of purchasing lower quality wood.
       Apply the smack test. If you don’t have access to a moisture meter, try the smack test. When you strike two pieces of wood together, the sound they make is a good indicator of whether they are ready for your fireplace. A clear, ringing “clunk” sound means the wood that you plan to purchase is seasoned and a good investment. If you can only muster a dull “thud” when smacking two pieces of firewood together, it is probably best to leave those logs at the store.
       Track your firewood’s travels. In many states, firewood can only be sold in the county where it was cut, because officials are trying to reduce the spread of invasive pests like the ash borer and pine bark beetles. So while it may not have traveled far to get to your local store for sale, how firewood has been stored prior to purchase makes a big difference. Ask the seller how and where the wood was stored in recent months, and if you get any indication that has been exposed to the elements – like rain and snow – it’s probably better to take a pass. The best firewood has been stored off the ground in a dry and well-ventilated shed or other enclosure.
       Choose hardwoods first. While all species of wood will work just fine in your fireplace, seasoned hardwoods, because they are denser, will burn hotter and longer, keeping you warmer and saving you money on the purchase of additional wood.
For more information about selecting proper firewood or to locate a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep®, visit and click on the Homeowner Resources tab.

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