The nights and days will soon offer a noticeable chill to the air.
For many, this means it’s time to turn to the trusty wood stove or fireplace to warm things up. As someone who has been burning firewood, both inside the cottage and outside at the fire pit since before I can remember, here are my top tips for indoor wood burning:
1. Have a professional inspect your wood burning unit and chimney at least once per season.
This professional should be WETT (Wood Energy Technology Transfer) certified. A WETT certificate is already a likely requirement for your home or cottage insurance policy. Treat your fireplace and chimney as you would your furnace and have it cleaned and maintained by professionals.
2. For top fuel efficiency and warmth, burn seasoned hardwood.
Maple, oak, ash, birch, or ironwood are great examples.
3. Burn seasoned wood only.
Aside from not getting maximum heat, burning green wood is not healthy and can damage your chimney over time. Freshly cut wood contains about 50 per cent water. The moisture in wood causes creosote to build up and potentially produce dangerous chimney fires. If steam bubbles and hisses out of the end grain as the firewood heats up on the fire, the wood is wet, or green, and needs to be seasoned longer before burning. Well-seasoned firewood generally has darkened ends with visible cracks or splits. It is relatively lightweight and makes a sharp, distinctive “clink” when two pieces strike each other. Split and stacked firewood generally takes six months to dry and be ready to burn.
4. Have plenty of kindling available.
In the fall, I prepare and store plenty of boxes of finely chopped dry hardwood. There’s nothing more frustrating, not to mention chilly, than trying to start or revive a fire without a small supply of kindling at hand.
5. Buy hardwood from professionals.
I don’t have access to a woodlot so I have my hardwood delivered each spring. It drys all summer and is ready to burn in the fall. It is already split, but I like to chop some pieces to get exercise and have a nice mixture of sizes on hand.
7. Know your wood units.
A bush cord (or full cord) of firewood is an amount of wood eight feet long by four feet high and four feet deep. A face cord is equal to a single stack of firewood measuring eight feet long by four feet high by the depth of the firewood itself. My current supplier charges $325 per cord and he delivers.
And finally, remember: burning firewood warms you three times. Once while splitting, second while stacking and a third time when you burn it.