A lot of times when fires in a fireplace are less than spectacular – when they’re too smoky, don’t last very long, produce excess soot and creosote – it’s not the fault of the fireplace. Often, the only problem is the wood that’s being used.
Not all firewood logs are the same. They look pretty similar, but it’s what’s underneath the patterned bark that makes all the difference. Here are a few things to know when choosing firewood for clean-burning, long-lasting fires.
Select dry wood
Seasoned, or dry, wood logs burn hotter and more efficiently while creating less smoke than wet, unseasoned wood. Plus, they ignite easier and hold their flames longer.
Fires that produce tons of smoke also produce quite a bit of flammable creosote, which sticks to the walls of the flue and can lead to a chimney fire. In fact, most chimney fires happen because homeowners neglect to have their chimneys properly cleaned and inspected on an annual basis.
Dry wood logs have certain characteristics:
- Grayish or dark color
- A hollow sound when you bang two logs together
- Lightweight, not too heavy
- Cracks/splits at the ends of the logs
- Bark that easily flakes away .
Store your logs the right way
Logs stored outside should be set on some kind of small riser/pallet to keep them off the damp ground. Cover the stack with a waterproof tarp, but leave the ends open so air can circulate within the logs and aid in the drying process.
Give your fire what it needs: air
Air (oxygen) is a key component in creating fire. For a fire to build to roaring proportions, a sufficient amount of air is required. Accomplish this by not stacking logs too tightly together in the firebox.
Additionally, make sure the house has some circulation (crack a window, if necessary), and keep your chimney free of obstructions and built-up creosote to ensure plenty of draft.
Important note: Chimney cleaning is not a job for the average homeowner. The best choice for this work is a professional chimney sweep who is licensed, insured and certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). This ensures that the job will be done right and safely.
Choose the right logs for the desired burn time
Logs from hardwood trees will burn longer and hotter than logs from softwood trees.
- Douglas fir
If you chop your own firewood . . .
After chopping your own wood, exercise patience in the drying process. Depending on the density and moisture, freshly chopped wood can take between six months and a year to fully dry out. Plan accordingly as you build up your supply from season to season.
High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, believes every home should have a stunning fireplace to enjoy during the cold weather and at other times. Part of that enjoyment comes from a fireplace and chimney that are clean and in tip-top shape. Let us help you keep your fireplace or stove working right. We offer certified chimney sweep, chimney inspection, fireplace, stove and chimney repair and all related services. Give us a call today at (301) 519-3500.