As difficult as it is to think about cold weather during the nice spring and summer months when the trees are green and the flowers are in full bloom, wood burners need to start prepping for fall now.
Since wood needs to be cut, split, and stacked months in advance so that it dries out properly, now is the time to get that project completed, and get some exercise to boot. There are several types of log-splitters available that can make the job much easier. Prices range from $150 for a hand-operated splitter, to $3,000 for a professional gas splitter.
Wood should be stacked off the ground, away from the house, with a covering over the top but not on the sides-- so the wind can blow through and dry the wood out. For the serious wood-burner, a woodshed with a permanent roof will offer years of protection from the elements. Be sure to stack wood loosely so it will dry out faster.
Wood should be kept away from the house because creepy crawlies like brown recluses like to hide in between the logs. Check wood with an inexpensive moisture meter to be sure it contains less than 20% moisture content before burning. Moisture meters can be purchased online.
|Stack split wood loosely|
Any dry wood will do - but hardwood will burn for a longer time since it is denser than softwood. By using hardwood less time is involved in loading up the wood stove or fireplace insert, but softwoods will burn nicely, too.
Stay away from dry pine and hedge, however, because they burn so hot and fast there is a greater risk of a chimney fire or damaging a wood stove or fireplace.
Marge Padgitt is a veteran chimney contractor in Kansas City, Missouri. She is the author of the Chimney and Hearth Pro's Resource Book and The Homeowner's Guide to Hearth Appliances.