1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Did my firewood provider short-change me?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Cassius, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. Cassius

    Cassius New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    9
    Hi,

    I'm new to this forum and new to firewood in general. My wife and I moved to Maine from California and this is my first experience using a wood stove to heat a house. Early in December I bought a cord of wood for delivery.

    I knew it was a bit late in the season to be ordering wood and was a bit concerned I wouldn't be able to find any aged wood. I called around and found a few who said they had aged wood. The vendor I finally settled on told me that (since I needed 12 inch cuts) the wood in my cord would have been downed at tree length for about 18 months and would have to be cut to order.

    The day of delivery was nice and sunny and the ground where the wood was dumped was dry enough that it should not have been a problem. Upon delivery, I immediately brought in as much wood as I could fit in our hearth.

    As I said, I'm a bit new to firewood as a main source of heat. But I've had and used fireplaces since I was a kid living in Pennsylvania. So I'm not totally green -- but I'm concerned that my firewood might be. It is incredibly difficult to get a fire going and there is lots of hissing from the logs when they first get in the wood stove. The fire 'burns cool' for about a half hour and requires a fair bit of attention to keep going (even if I use a fire starter). Some of the wood is wet to the touch and even the ones that don't feel wet will sometimes have what appears to be water (no sap-like residue) dripping out of the end of the log before they really start burning.

    Is this normal for firewood that has been downed at tree length for a year and a half? Should I call the vendor and complain? Help. :)

    Thanks for reading this far.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Could be sitting in tree length for years and years, doesn't matter. It's not going to season until it's bucked and split. Pretty much only thing you can do is wait until next winter (at least!) to burn that wood.

    Where at in Maine? I might be able to hook you up with some seasoned wood if your up north.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  3. thewoodlands

    thewoodlands Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Messages:
    10,825
    Wood that has been cut,split & stacked for a year is considered seasoned. Some woods take longer than a year to season, downed tree length is not considered seasoned in my book.

    Zap
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  4. Cassius

    Cassius New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    9
    Ok, thanks for the response.

    I guess I'm going to suffer through winter with this wood and burn some creosote logs (or whatever they are called). Lesson learned. One good thing is the hearth gets a lot of sun and I've noticed that logs sitting in the front of the hearth for a week or so of sunny days have a noticeably improved burn. So, I'll do what I can to dry them out.

    Also, we are just a bit north of Portland so pretty far south. But thanks for the offer.
  5. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,593
    Loc:
    Texas- West of Houston
    Was the wood split? I suggest resplitting it to smaller pieces. That will speed up the process somewhat. Keep the next load close to the stove will help a little. To burn green wet wood, which is what you have, the stove will need lots of air. And be sure to clean your flue fairly soon. It'll probably be thick with creosote.

    You can buy some bio blocks to supplement your wood. They will help give a hotter fire.

    You're not going to get much heat out of wet wood. All the energy is going to remove the water from the wood, not produce heat.
    Buy another load or two now so that you'll be in better shape for next winter. You might also try scrounging around for wood pallets to bust up. They will help you get through this year.
  6. Cassius

    Cassius New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    9
    I'll also add that I've been doing the following to try to improve things a bit. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

    When I have a fire going, I have six logs stacked on top of the stove and around the stove pipe, obviously this heats them so they will burn a bit better when they go. It also dries them a bit should they not be used for that particular fire. I also stand a few up along the side for the same reason. For those logs that have bark, I try to do this until the bark 'bakes' off (or at least can be peeled) and then continue for a bit to drive out the moisture that sits just under the bark.

    And as mentioned above, I try to get as many logs into direct sunlight (indoors) as possible.

    Finally, if a fire is dying but still giving off heat, I'll stick a log in there just to get a little drying action.
  7. Cassius

    Cassius New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    9
    Thanks, I guess we were typing at the same time.

    I'm actually not worried about making it through this year (even with this wood). What I didn't mention in my first post is that the house has a solar heating component and can really heat up on a sunny day (as long as it is 20+ outside).. The wood stove gets a lot of use but in reality it is just there to top off when the solar isn't delivering enough heat.

    My main concern with this wood is the creosote. We'll make it through this winter with probably enough for next year to spare.
  8. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,395
    Loc:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    That's really friggin' dangerous.
  9. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,395
    Loc:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Another idea, though: if you were by some chance able to find some wood for sale that was actually dry but too long for your stove, you'd do well to buy that wood and a small chainsaw to hack it into usable lengths.
  10. Cassius

    Cassius New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    9
    With drier wood, I would never do this. But sadly, I feel very safe doing it with this wood. I do check it every 45 minutes -- and I work in a loft which is directly above the stove so I would also smell it if it started to burn.
  11. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,177
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    Please stop this dangerous practice immediately. Now I'll take off my firefighter's helmet and put on my helpful hearth.com hat . . .

    * Chaulk this up to a lesson learned . . . seasoned wood is wood that is cut, split and stacked for a year or more or when it reaches X% for moisture content (I think most folks recommend 20% or less). If buying wood your two best choices are to either get a moisture meter and specify to the seller that you need seasoned wood of X% for your modern woodstove or buy the wood well in advance and season the wood yourself by just letting it sit in a stack for a year or so.

    * Splitting smaller and exposing the wood to the sun and wind will help . . . as will bringing it inside near (but not on top and well away from the minimum clearances of the) woodstove.

    * If you're near Portland you will have no problem finding pallets . . . it will take a bit to bust up or cut up with a Sawz-all or chainsaw, but if you add the pallet wood with the semi-seasoned wood you can get a fire that will be fair . . . heck, it may even seem to burn great . . . until you get a-hold of truly seasoned wood.

    * Check and clean your chimney regularly . . . at least once a month . . . maybe even more. Burning unseasoned wood can quickly gunk up your chimney.

    * You may also have some luck if you do a search and see if anyone in the area is selling kiln-dried firewood . . . it's more expensive, but may burn much better and get you by for this year.

    Please do not be a fire statistic . . .
  12. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,177
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    This sounds good in theory . . . but in practice it is so easy to get distracted and forget about this. Please try to find another option or we may end up reading about this very nice person from California that moved to Maine and apparently didn't realize that putting wood close to a woodstove is a bad habit.
  13. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,395
    Loc:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    And then one day you have a couple of beers, you feel a little sleepy, you close your eyes for just a moment, and your whole world goes to hell.

    I'm a professional woodworker. There are a lot of time-saving risky stunts with power tools that I can get away with when I'm well-rested and sharp, but I studiously avoid them because I know that they'd easily become habits, and habits persist even when you're tired and foggy.
  14. Cassius

    Cassius New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    9
    OK, I will modify my practices somewhat. Probably not as much as you guys think I should; but enough to significantly reduce the risks you have discussed.
  15. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,593
    Loc:
    Texas- West of Houston
    When you say "logs," are you really talking about splits? A six inch log is quite different from a six inch split. Any log needs to be split into four or more pieces to speed up the drying. OR, allowed to season for a few years because it takes a lonnnngg time to season an unsplit log.

    Be safe, above all.
  16. Cassius

    Cassius New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    9
    Sorry, I do mean splits as you have surmised.

    And yes I will stay safe. I do appreciate the safety related advice. What I am going to do is stop putting logs directly on the stove and instead will put them around the stove (not going to worry too much about the distance as I will continue to check them every 45 minutes and will ALWAYS set a reminder on my iPhone to make sure I keep to that schedule). I will focus mainly on getting the bark off those splits that have it since such a large portion of the moisture seems to be there.

    I may, from time to time put a few logs directly on the stove, but only if I am in the room and only if it is day light (so I won't fall asleep). In those cases I will also use the reminder.

    I know some of my comments above make me sound like some wild and loose guy who doesn't know what he is doing. But actually I am quite mindful of dangers in general and I have a lot of experience with building and keeping fires. So I had a high degree of confidence in the methods I talked about above (due to the condition of this wood). But when other people start setting off alarms I tend to give something like this a hard think and I will err on the side of caution (though that's rarely erring, is it?).
  17. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    If I were in your shoes I would probably give up on trying to use that wood for this year and source other wood.
  18. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2012
    Messages:
    1,920
    Loc:
    southern ontario
    If you have alot of experience building and keeping fires, how did you not know better than to get in this situation?

    Listen to the advice here.

    At a minimum, keep the wood off the stove and away from the stack. You can split the wood smaller, supplement your wood with kiln dried, pallet, or trash cut offs from a lumber yard, or with some pressed hardwood bricks (there are a few that are good, and they aren't too expensive).

    If you stack the wood inside an inch or two off the ground and out from the wall, with good air space between the splits, near the stove or in the sun, and aim a good fan at the stack, on high, the wood will dry out surprisingly fast...and a lot more safely than setting it on the stove.

    There is no need to get the bark off. Much more drying happens out of the ends and split surface. Forget the bark.
  19. Cassius

    Cassius New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    9
    I said "building and keeping" -- not "purchasing" (at least by the cord).
  20. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2012
    Messages:
    1,920
    Loc:
    southern ontario
    Fact remains, folks who are giving you advice here know lots more than you or I about safety around a wood stove.

    They have no axe to grind. Their comments are entirely in the interest of your safety.

    Please listen to them.

    And I would NEVER purchase wood from the supplier again. He clearly took advantage of your lack of familiarity with purchasing firewood, since you seemingly made it clear you were looking for dry wood.
  21. Shane N

    Shane N Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    330
    Loc:
    West Central MN
    Stacking wood on a stove? Uff da.

    Like nate said, stack this wood outside and wait to use it until next year (assuming it isn't oak). Find dry wood (kiln dried, pallets, etc) to burn this year.

    That way you are a year ahead and you don't die. Win/win.
  22. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2011
    Messages:
    1,541
    Loc:
    Long Island NY
    Welcome to the forum Cassius. If you stick around here the knowledge base can help you get through what sounds like a tough start. Have to agree with others. Your wood sounds absolutely green and very wet. Season the stuff you bought for another year and find an alternative. Pressed wood bricks are about $300 a ton around my area and are supposed to be roughly = to a cord. If finances don't permit it use pallets, lumber scraps or a combo of all the above. Mybe you can find a local burner who is ahead of the game willing to swap out some seasoned wood or sell you some.

    What type of stove do you have and do you know what kind of wood you purchased?

    Oh and listen to the safety suggestions, be safe.
  23. DanCorcoran

    DanCorcoran Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    2,064
    Loc:
    Richmond, VA
    And when someone mentioned creosote "gunking up" your chimney, it not just the problem of a mess. Creosote buildup can lead to an extremely hot, uncontrollable fire in the chimney. There are many stories (in Maine) of homes burning down due to chimney fires. That's why the option of using another fuel source this year is not just a convenience item, but a significant safety concern.
  24. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Messages:
    3,137
    Loc:
    St. Lawrence River Valley, N.Y.
    First. Welcome to the forum Cassius. Good to have you.
    Second. Maine is one beautiful place. Only have been there once and hope to return in a few years.
    Third. Get that wood split and stacked outside. It will dry enough in 10 months to start burning next year.
    Fourth. Try to get a hold of some wood now or in the spring. Get it split and stacked ASAP. Then next season it will be ready.
    Fifth. Learn what types of wood you can get in your area. And how fast they dry. Ash dries the quickest. Splits super easy.
    Sixth. Remember, it may take a little more time, but if you split your wood smaller, say 4-7 inch splits, it will dry faster for ya.
    Seventh. Never put wood on your stove. Never. And never stack any wood closer than two feet from your stove. Never.

    Want to talk about experience in burning. There have been several people who have lost there home, or worse, in Northern New York who had plenty of experience burning wood. Be very, very careful.

    Keep reading the post on hearth.com, you will learn a lot about your new hobby in a short amount of time.
  25. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Messages:
    3,724
    Loc:
    Central Mass
    I dont think he took advantage of the guy I think a lot of firewood sellers THINK that once the tree is cut the seasoning process starts, I know my brother in law whos been in the wood cutting/selling business for 40 years still thinks that, no matter what I tell him, he thinhks Im an idiot and since I just started burning 4 years ago I dont know a damn thing.
    If you have the money you can buy bio bricks and mix them with the wood or try finding someone that actually sells seasoned wood, they're out there but few and far between and I wouldnt hand over the cash without asking the guy when he split the wood and testing it with a moisture meter, you can get one for under $30 at Lowes or online cheaper.

    edit: wanted to add one more thing, if you have or get oak in the future it takes 2-3 years to season minimum.

    good luck

Share This Page