In addition to traditional HVAC heating systems and heat pumps, many homeowners choose to heat with firewood. Here are some wood fire heating tips to get the most out of your firewood.
While you are enjoying the ambiance of the fire and comfortably soaking up its radiant heat, it is estimated that 80 – 90% of heat produced by an open fireplace is lost through the chimney. To combat this heat loss, install tightly fitted glass doors in front of the fireplace.
Wood-burning stoves are much more efficient at converting wood to heat. In fact, instead of losing 80-90% of the heat, as is the case with an open fireplace, wood-burning stoves retain about 65% of the heat. They are safer, too, as they contain the fire and reduce the risk of stray sparks or embers landing outside of the stove.
While many homeowners use wood as a source of fuel for heating their home, there are health considerations to take into account. In addition to creating outdoor air pollution with the smoke generated from burning wood, there is an increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and cancer, due to the air pollutants that commonly recirculate into the home from the stove or outdoors. (Environmental Protection Agency)
To reduce the output of smoke, it is important to use dry, well-seasoned firewood. In general, it takes at least six months for wood to dry and season for burning. However, depending on the type of wood, and where it is located, it can take up to eighteen months for hard woods (such as oak, ash and beech) to dry because of their density.
Seasoned vs. Unseasoned
There are a few signs wood has been properly seasoned and is ready to burn. Here are a few helpful hints.
- Color: The vibrancy of the wood will begin to dull and darken into a grayish, ashy color.
- Smell: Just as the vibrancy changes, so does the smell. Cut into a piece of wood and sniff it. If there is a strong smell, it is still too wet and fresh to burn.
- Weight: Dry wood weighs less than fresh wood because the moisture has dried.
- Bark: Fresh/Unseasoned wood has firmly attached bark. As the wood seasons, it begins to loosen and eventually can be pulled off easily.
For questions about heating and cooling products, or to schedule your annual maintenance, contact us at Pilchuck Heating.