Our top wood storage and wood burning tips

Wood needs to dry out and allow the sap to evaporate out of the heart of the timber. Drying wood, although sounding a simple process, has a few rules which need to be followed.

  1. The woodshed must be outside and have a sound roof/covering. Inside a garage sounds a good idea, but the wood can sweat without a wind blowing across the timber which can lead to damp and mouldy wood.  
  2. The wood should be stored off the ground. An old pallet is ideal for this, ensuring that air can pass from below as well, and the sides need to be partially open to allow the wind to blow through, and around the logs.
  3. The wood should be positioned on its side, not stood upright, so any driving rain or dew should run off the logs and not be soaked up.
  4. This timber should then be given time to dry, which will take at least 12 months, but more likely around 24 months. Once dry, the moisture content, (which is the natural saps from within the tree), should be no greater than 20%. A simple moisture meter can be used to check this figure. An experienced hand can usually tell this before checking with the moisture meter, just from the weight of the wood. The logs will also be starting to split across the end grain.

The importance of patience when drying wood

Efficient fuel

Having the patience to wait for this drying process is essential. Using wood with a high moisture content will not only burn with an inefficient low temperature, if even possible to get alight, but even more importantly it will deposit this natural tree sap as tar and creosote on the inside of the stove and within the flue/chimney.

Clogged air vents

These deposits can clog up stove air vents, thus rendering the stove unusable, or if in the flue/chimney can restrict the diameter. This restriction in diameter can result in the appliance creating more smoke and dangerous gases leaking into the room. (These gases will include carbon monoxide – the silent killer, as both odourless and invisible. A carbon monoxide alarm should be fitted in the room of the appliance).

Risk of chimney fire

These tar deposits can also ignite, creating a ‘chimney fire’ where flue/chimney temperatures can exceed 1000oC. Exposure to these temperatures will cause metal flues to be left unusable and in need of replacement. If firing into a brick chimney stack the heat can degrade the mortar joints, leaving the bricks and entire stack unstable.

Damage to brick chimneys

If a brick stack, any tar and creosote deposits will start to attack the mortar joints. This results in being able to see the outline of the bricks through the plaster/wall paper/paint in the bedroom above, or brown stains on the external of the stack. Even if dry wood is then used, every time the stack heats up, the creosote become liquid again and will further penetrate the stack, so the summer redecorated bedroom shows the brown brick outlines again before Christmas.

Invalid warranty

Any flue which has failed whilst still within its warranty period, and has used wet wood, (or any general household refuse, or unsuitable products), will be devoid of any warranty, as will flues which do not have annual sweeping by a qualified sweep and a certificate issued. This could also have further implications should any house insurance be needed to repair the chimney stack, etc.

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