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    Sunday, April 21, 2024

    Air flow is essential when stacking firewood

    If you want to make good use of a fireplace or wood stove, it's essential to keep a plentiful supply of firewood on hand. It's also helpful to think one season ahead, since firewood needs time to season in order to burn properly.

    Living trees have plenty of moisture in them when they are first cut down, and it takes time to dry them out. While it is possible to burn fresh firewood, it's not as effective as using seasoned firewood. The Cornell University Cooperative Extension says wood with a high moisture content will put out less heat and produce more smoke, which can quickly build up a flammable layer of creosote in your chimney.

    Firewood should be seasoned for at least six months before it is used. It can be particularly effective to order firewood in the summer or autumn to start preparing it for next year's winter.

    Creating a stack of firewood lets you efficiently store this supply of fuel. You'll also want to make sure the stack is stable and offers enough air circulation to properly dry out the wood.

    No matter what kind of firewood stack you build, it is important to establish a protective layer between the wood and the ground. This will prevent the pieces at the bottom from getting wet and rotted. Ben Brady, writing for North Atlantic Firewood of Epping, N.H., says materials such as plywood, pallets, or cinder blocks work well for this purpose.

    Stack the firewood loosely, allowing the pieces to secure each other. Avoid putting similar pieces on top of each other, since this will create vertical towers that are more likely to topple over. If a piece of firewood has bark on it, try to have it face upward since it will be more likely to shed rainwater this way. The Cornell University Cooperative Extension recommends putting no more than two layers of firewood side by side.

    The firewood will dry more effectively if the cut ends of the stack get plenty of exposure to the wind. Kelsey Savage, writing for the home improvement professional Bob Vila, says the stack will generally get enough wind if the cut ends are facing west. The company Napoleon Fireplaces says firewood should not be stacked directly against the side of a building, since it limits the amount of sunlight and air circulation the wood receives.

    One of the most popular methods of stacking firewood is the "hammock span," so named because it can use two trees as end points to secure the firewood stack. You may want to move the location of the stack every few seasons. Roy Berendsohn, writing for Popular Mechanics, says consistently using the same trees will eventually start to damage their bark.

    Alternatively, you can create a hammock span by using firewood towers for the end points. Savage says you can build these towers by laying a few pieces down, then stacking others on top in a perpendicular direction. After several layers have been stacked, you can lay down the start of the pile and establish another tower on the opposite end.

    Another popular and visually striking method is the holz hausen, German for "wood house." This stack is circular and can contain a roof, making it look like a small hut.

    Brady says you can outline the area for a holz hausen stack by putting down a stake, tying a string to it, and using it to trace a circle. Start stacking the wood along this circle, with the bulk of each piece located inside the traced area. Any irregular pieces can be loosely piled into the center to provide better support. You can occasionally place pieces perpendicularly to further secure the stack. Once you reach an appropriate height, start placing pieces toward the middle, angled toward the ground, with the bark facing up to form a sort of roof.

    It is best to keep the firewood stored outside, moving small quantities to a more convenient indoor location as needed. The Michigan State University Extension says insects can make their home in the pile, with warmer indoor temperatures causing eggs to hatch. Try to use firewood within a week of bringing it indoors.

    You may also want to cover any firewood stored outdoors to help keep it dry. An area guarded by an extended roof will work well, as long as rainwater runoff does not drip onto the pile. A tarp stretched over the stack and weighted on top can also work well, although the sides should remain loose in order to keep air circulating.

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