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Can wood be too dry?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by bryan, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. Monosperma

    Monosperma Member

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    I have some piles of old juniper fenceposts that have been air-drying in the New Mexico high desert sun for at least sixty years, maybe eighty. They are a bit too fragile now to use as fence posts, but they sure do burn great. I may, however, have to look into a large humidor for my firewood.
    Woody Stover likes this.

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  2. Billybonfire

    Billybonfire Feeling the Heat

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    Hi, I did manage to save an old stair post, solid oak, to nice to burn so I put it in the garden as a sort of feature -
    Photo0278.jpg
  3. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    Awesome. Some great conversations around that, I bet.
    Billybonfire likes this.
  4. 31 bertram

    31 bertram New Member

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    I have cracked a glass awhile back so I replaced glass and all the gaskets and seems that my stove is still hard to damper down. I can't find any other cracks or leaks where air is getting in but my wood has been under a tarp and dried for over 3 years now and seems to be burning alot hotter and lights up fast, also seems slightly lighter in weight. I'm used to this stove and bought my VC 2550 new so I know something's going on here. Any advice would be appreciated.
    Bo
  5. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Sounds like you may have a lot of draft.

    What's your chimney setup?

    pen
  6. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    I don't believe wood can be to dry.

    As pen said you may have to much draft.
  7. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Could be your loading up with smaller dry wood.. Pick out some larger splits or rounds and this should slow things down.. Try running smaller loads too if burning smaller splits or pack the wood into the stove with smaller spaces between the wood..

    Ray
  8. 31 bertram

    31 bertram New Member

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    I have 8" single wall (about 6 ft.) joining8 " tripple wall thu ceiling (about 10 ft) with about 3 ft.height coming out right at roof pitch. But it has always worked fine until this year.
  9. Malatu

    Malatu New Member

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    I don't think wood can get to dry for the simple fact it can only get so dry. Drying wood naturally (air dry) will reduce the moisture content of wood to 15% - 22% depending on the species (edited). Kiln drying can further reduce the moisture content to 7-11%.

    In addition, because wood has the characteristic of being hygroscopic, its moisture content will be affected by the relative humidity of the air surrounding it.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It's probably not the wood, but I am curious what species wood are you burning?

    I would check that the bypass damper is still working correctly and not warped. Check to make sure the mechanism is not getting sloppy or that the pivots are worn. Also check the air control to make sure it is closing when the temp is set. After that, check the cat refractory for deterioration.
    raybonz likes this.
  11. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Not sure if it is your problem but I do believe that wood can get too old. I burn some pretty trashy wood species and my stacks are outdoors. Some of the wood even goes into the stack with a little bit of decay. I experience "dry rot" of wood sometimes. Worse where winblown rain has been allowed to soak the sides of the stack and also worse nearer the ground.

    Bottom line is that three years is about as long as I hope to store wood outside on pallets. I've got a 4-5 years supply right now so I will need to sell some which isn't really a bad thing.
  12. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    Around here seasoned firewood can draw 80 bucks a FC or more!
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That's particularly true for alder. It gets punky fast which is how nature planned it. Doug fir does a lot better in this regard.
  14. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    In terms of burning too hot or too fast, I've found that the size of the splits has more to do with it. I split a little larger than I used to, and then split smaller pieces as needed for start up. Give me too dry any day. That said, some species tend to burn faster than others, so I am careful to mix loads if I have a lot of smaller chunks of faster burning species. I split pine much larger than I split doug fir or maple.
  15. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    yep, size matters. always does
    raybonz likes this.
  16. John_M

    John_M Minister of Fire

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  17. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    How hot are these temps?
  18. Blue Vomit

    Blue Vomit Minister of Fire

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    Battling a VC 2550 with high temps... I don't envy you.
    That stove can be less than forgiving if you over fire it, don't ask me how I know.
    Ask a lot of questions here. Hopefully you get it fixed right.
    That stove is great when its running right, when its not... Not so much.
    Good luck.
  19. 31 bertram

    31 bertram New Member

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    begreen...I'm burning regular old oak, the kind that is prevelant in Alabama, I think some call it post oak. It has alway been easy to burn and control.
    John_M...That's some very interesting articles, thanks
    BrowningBAR...I can't give you an accurate temp reading yet as I have a new thermometer coming sometime this week, my other one died and I am just building small fires for the time being until I get the new thermometer. Don't want to take any more chances. Not for sure if this would make any difference but I've been working overseas and my stove has'nt been used for over a year before I started it this fall. With the primary damper shut all the way, it still has a good size fire which seems to be ok with two small splits of wood (no unsafe temps) about 400 or 500 degrees.
  20. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Right now I think you are being overly cautious. Two small splits will look and burn a lot different than a normal load of wood. And you are guessing at your stove top temps.


    It shouldn't matter if the stove has been sitting for a year.

    How is it burning hotter if you are only using two small splits and no thermometer?
  21. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    How long would it take wood to dry if you lived in an arid climate like New Mexico, Arizona, or parts of Colorado / Utah? Could you get away with c/s/s and burn a few months later?
  22. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    I remember seeing a post that talks about outdoor temperature and it's effectiveness on drying wood. An Arizona summer of 100+ degree days would speed up the drying process by quite a bit.
  23. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum Bo.

    To answer the question about the wood; no. We commonly burn wood that has been split and stacked 6-7 years. Plus you are burning oak and most oaks like 3 years in the stack before burning. It will help when you know for sure the temperature of the stove. You might also be interested in an IR gun to get a more accurate reading on the stove. You can get one for around $30 starting price.

    I can understand why you are hesitant to burn much until you know more about the temperature but you perhaps are being a bit too cautious. Still, do what makes you feel comfortable. Good luck.
  24. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Those areas are at higher altitudes and have drier soils. The trees grow slower, drier, more dense and their wood often has a higher oil content if they are evergreens. Based on that I would tend to think that a full summer of drying would be sufficient.
  25. 31 bertram

    31 bertram New Member

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    I'd like to thank everyone for the warm welcome (pun intended) and many thanks for taking time to answer my questions and help me out, alot of knowlegable folks here. I have a much better idea of what I need to check and will be getting an IR thermo gun and the thermometer should be here any time, since I am overly cautious of cracking another glass. But I guess that's not too bad for all the years I've ran this stove, maybe close to 20 yrs? It's amazing at how you come to know something so well that you know when it ain't right. Thanks again
    Hearth Mistress and pen like this.

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