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Late First year wood collection and storage

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by afblue, Sep 11, 2009.

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  1. afblue

    afblue Feeling the Heat

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    I figured I would take this as my intro to another great forum and group of people with similar interests. Although I havent posted much yet, I have read a ton, and have a few questions. I am having a Quadrafire 5100i installed mid Nov in my 1922 era 2 story 1700sqft home, with new windows and an attic insulation blanket but w/plaster non insulated walls. I am planning on using the the forced air furnace to circulate the air of the house and maintain as close to constant and full home heating with my QF. I have unlimited availablity to my Father's 175 acres of forest so firewood eventually will not be an issue.

    My first year issue will be my father will be collecting for me dead standing hardwood (oak,maple, cherry. ash) and some 2-5year old logged tree tops. I am unfortuneatly not home to help him, since I am out of state till Nov for military training. How close to "seasoned' will this wood be since he is cutting and splitting as we speak? My primary wood storage will be in my basement and garage due to my limited storage being in a semi urban area, with very little yard and driveway space. Plus I have the use of a large, no longer used gravity return vent to the basement I can pass wood through the floor directly to the livingroom where insert is.

    I can understand and accept the increased risk of storage wood inside incase a fire was to break out. What I am interested is, what should I be looking out for to make sure I dont spread bugs into my house, What I do see is the ease of access to my wood, and possibly rapid drying of the wood. Will it help to have a rotating stock of wood in my well ventilated/circulated dehumidified basement burn in my fire insert? Will I need to purchase a cord or 2 of well seasoned wood or toss in pallets I have access to in order to supliment my burn plan?

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  2. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Sometimes standing dead trees are ready to burn. Often time there is still moisture on the inside. I can tell you anything close to fresh that is being split now there is no way you will want to burn, but as for dead stuff its really hard to say.
  3. Summertime

    Summertime New Member

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    You should try to burn the ash and cherry first as they will probably dry quicker, If I were you I would invest in a moisture meter so you know how dry your wood really is. Last year I burned a dead standing poplar with no problems. You may want to post wood questions on the "woodshed" forum for better response.
  4. Ratman

    Ratman Feeling the Heat

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    First thank you for your service.

    This is what I do and I hope it will help you:

    Split and aquire all possible wood products as you mentioned.
    Sort that entire pile(s) into 3 piles.
    Save the $ on the moisture meter if tempted and wood knock 2 pieces from the same batch together. If you hear a hollow sound and does not feel extra heavy it’s dry and ready for Pile 1 below.
    If not you will need to determine if it’s a candidate for pile 2 or 3.
    I used wet wood (Pile 2, 3) before. It burned lousy and I had to clean my chimney several times that year.

    Pile 1. Obvious dry into the first pile. This will be burned first. You main task is to append to this pile.

    Pile 2. Almost dry requiring another split to assist in drying into the second pile. This will be burned after the dry pile is consumed.

    Pile 3. Next years pile because it is wet and should not be burned in your wood stove.

    Then try and find any wood including pallets and lumber scraps (no paint, no pressure treated) to suppliment Pile 1.
    As you are stacking examine each split for insect infested wood and save for outside burning (new pile 4)
  5. mike1234

    mike1234 New Member

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    I burnt a lot of dead standing wood last winter, it was not perfect, and I cleaned the chimney out at least every month (probably not needed, but better safe than sorry), but it kept us warm. While I was cutting dead standing to burn, I was also cutting everything else, getting 2 years ahead, so that I would not end up in that situation again.

    My opinion, it'll work, but pay special attention to creosote build up.
  6. edthedawg

    edthedawg Minister of Fire

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    I'll throw three things atcha:

    1 - I'd be really worried about the amount of bugs you're planning to introduce w/ the indoor storage. I'd do whatever possible to allocate even the very precious, limited outdoor space you have for your wood storage. You're going to find the basement to be an unwilling participant in the drying process, I think.

    2 - I would really limit the amount of lumber scraps burned - all lumber is subjected to a lot of salt in its processing, and those hot salts are highly corrosive to your stove and chimney liner.

    3 - If you can both afford the cost, and wish to dedicate clean interior storage space, you might look into using BioBricks (or the like). Some folks use them alone, but my personal preference is to supplement less-than-well-seasoned cordwood with them. But way more effective to store and use indoors.

    ok a 4th thing - dunno your specific HVAC setup, but just be warned that many others have tried using their existing HVAC systems to move "warm air" around and often w/ mixed results. Natural convection loops are a much more effective way to heat the whole space.
  7. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum afblue and thank you for your service.

    There has been some good advice posted but I will attempt to add to what others have stated.

    First and foremost always is the fuel. Good fuel = good fires. Poor fuel = some very bad days for you! From the woods you have listed, I fully agree with Summertime's post. The cherry and ash will be your best bet for this winter.

    If I were you, I would split and stack all of the wood outdoor. Try to get it split and stacked as soon as possible or sooner! Stack it where it will be in the sun, but most important would be to get it in the wind. Stack it loosely so that the air can get through the stack and stack in single rows. Leave it uncovered. Then start moving some to the basement in November or December. Having the dehumidifier will help.

    On buying "seasoned" wood. You will probably find lots of folks selling "seasoned" wood. Don't believe them. Most have no idea what seasoned wood is nor how to season it. They think some logs cut a couple months ago, then cut to length and split the day they deliver is good wood. It is not! I suggest you go the The Wood Shed part of hearth.com and read a lot of posts on the best way to season wood and what length of time. Most will tell you 2 years is best for seasoning.

    I doubt that the furnace fan will do much to move the heat in the house. A better idea is to use a fan or two in adjoining rooms. Put the fan or fans on low speed and blow the cool air from the other rooms into the warm room. This sounds backwards but works much better than trying to move the hot air towards the cool room. You will find that the cool rooms warm up much better.

    Good luck to you.
  8. fredarm

    fredarm Minister of Fire

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    I burned a fair amount of standing dead oak last year. I found the top half or so of the tree was pretty much ready to burn, but the bottom half was still wet and needed to dry out. However, it dried faster than fresh cut green oak would have (4-6 months versus 2 years). Using Ratman's 3-pile system, the top third of the tree goes in pile 1, the middle in pile 2, and the bottom third in pile 3.
  9. afblue

    afblue Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks guys for all the quick responses. I realized just after I posted the thread there was an actually "wood shed" section, but I think I got a very good quick response. There is alot here for me to discuss but will have to wait till later today since I am just about to go on duty. Thanks for the help and will be back later today for more good info!!
  10. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    The tree tops will be your best bet, then the cherry and ash, then the maple and I probably wouldn't even touch the oak for a couple years. Since you are limited on space, can you father stack the wood separately on his land for now in the separate groups that were described before?

    I have not done it but others have reported that wood stacked in a dehumidified, heated basement will dry so what you might want to try is bring some of your group 2 wood in after the cold has hopefully killed some of the bugs and leave it there as long as possible while your group 1 wood is warming your house and helping to dry it out. I would get a moisture meter and re-split some pieces and check them on the freshly exposed surface to monitor your progress as the winter progresses.

    Good luck.
  11. Pagey

    Pagey Minister of Fire

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    Depending on the species and just how long its been standing dead, you can still end up with some pretty soggy wood. Oak, for example, is hard to dry. Dad took down a standing dead red oak last weekend, and the butt cuts pegged my moisture meter at 39-40%. Since modern stoves like wood in the 18-22% range, this oak will obviously be of no practical use this year. Now, you take the standing dead pine around here, and it's ready to burn in just a few months. I split some in July that was already reading 18-20% moisture content last weekend.

    As suggested, the tops will probably be in better shape as far as moisture content, so focus on those first. You'll probably want to split your wood as small as possible so that you expose more surface area. Get it in as much wind and sun as you can for now. Leave plenty of air space between your stacks, as moisture will leave the wood through the ends of the splits much more easily with good air space.

    But perhaps the best advice is to start on next year's wood now. The first year is a busy, hectic, demanding time, but if you ever get 2 years supply on hand, you simply have to replace what you burned the previous year.
  12. johnsopi

    johnsopi Minister of Fire

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    There are a lot of bugs in a wood pile. My 7th grader is doing a bug collection for school and the woodpile is the place to
    find them. He'll get a A+ on the project.
  13. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Random thoughts and reiterations . . .

    Using forced air . . . most folks that have tried this have reported less than stellar results. It seems as though the general consensus is that using ceiling fans and regular, old floor fans to move the air around the house seems to work better for most people.

    Seasoned wood . . . hmmm . . . the wood might be iffy . . . the fact that the wood is standing dead does not always mean it is ideal or ready to go . . . that said, sometimes you can just cut and burn. As others have said, tree tops are good bets and the tops left over from cutting a few years back (if off the ground) may be the most promising. Trees missing most or all of their bark are good candidates for burning this year. Species such as cherry, silver maple and ash are also preferred due to their low moisture content to start with . . . split small, stack loose in the sun and wind. You might elect to cover the top.

    Pallets . . . good for helping bring the fire up to temp with less than ideal wood. Use sparingly and carefully to avoid over-firing the stove. Cutting these up can be a pain, but they can be useful for the first year wood burner.

    Basement storage . . . I would suggest leaving the wood outside in the wind and sun for as long as possible before moving inside if you absolutely must . . . I would guess that leaving a stack outside exposed to the wind would be more beneficial, but if you must move inside using a dehumidifier might help. I have a friend who moves his wood into the basement and it seems to be OK (albeit this is done a year ahead and he has reported an abnormal amount of insects inside the basement this year.)

    Good luck! I can almost guarantee that next year at this time you'll be well ahead of the game.
  14. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    #2 is BS. Have made lumber and pallets for 21 years and never put salt on anything. You may be thinking about treated wood but pallets are not made from this as it is cost prohibitive and pallets are made with a short life in mind.
  15. edthedawg

    edthedawg Minister of Fire

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    Hey Lee -
    1 - I didn't say "pallets" anywhere in there.
    2 - No one would expect pallets to be made from PT - can't say as I've ever seen such an animal.
    3 - It would not be expected to "put salt on" the wood.

    So I think we're sayin' the same things, just diff'rently.

    My intent was to point out that wood handling can induce such an effect (salt infusion) long before the tree is turned into lumber. Great article on the subject here: http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/homillends.htm

    Lotsa people burn pallet wood. I don't have easy access to a lot of it, myself, but the few times i have, it's burned great. Me personally, I wouldn't wanna wind up in a situation where I hadda burn a lot of it.

    Clear up my stance? Or am I still fulla BS? :coolhmm:
  16. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    Standing dead tree's have been hit and miss for me. I cut some standing dead poplars in March and the top pieces will be ok but the lower parts of the tree's were really wet and still are. A standing dead elm with no bark was good just about top to bottom. I agree with the others on the ash and cherry. I would probably save the oak for next season if you can. I cut a large ash in the spring for my brothers MIL that was just showing signs of the EAB so it was very much alive, I had it split/stacked early May and the M/C was down in the low 20's just 2 months later.

    I'm also a first year burner so I've been running like crazy trying to get my wood ready. This year might be a little rough but I have 10+ cords stacked right now with another one or two that need splitting so moving forward I should be in good shape. This weekend I was planning on cutting some more standing dead ash that I'll use in Jan./Feb. but I've picked up some type of nasty cold/flue so I'll probably be laying around the house.
  17. Ratman

    Ratman Feeling the Heat

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    Sorry I was out that day: MIL, EAB, M/C

    AA: Acronyms Anonymous
  18. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    Sorry, Mother in Law, Emerald ash bore, moisture content.......
  19. Ratman

    Ratman Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks...hope you feel better soon.
    My God man, 10+ cords!
    Good job. I have approximately 6 and would like 2 more.
  20. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, I hate to waste a weekend being sick! Laptop and wireless internet while surfing in bed, gotta love technology!

    You can find pictures of most of my stacks here. http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/39809/ Ok now I'm done with the thread hijack. :)
  21. Hurricane

    Hurricane Minister of Fire

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    I also would like to thank you for your service to our country

    I also have the Quad 5100i and love it. Make sure you get the blower option, without it it is just a radiant heater. I lived off of standing dead for years and it works fine. Some of the lower parts will be wet when split. I split them smaller and they dry enough to burn.
    I thought it was working great for me until reading on here how dry my wood should be. I have also used pallet wood in between and would not recommend a whole stove full, it will get real hot real fast and there is no good way to quickly cool down the stove.
    The bugs will not die off in the cold weather they will go dormant and wake up again when brought inside. You can make sure the bark is off and do not bring in any wood inside that is rotten.
    Buying wood will not work for this year because as others have said the wood will not be dry enough.

    If you have that much acreage to get wood from there should be plenty of branches down that are dry to keep you going for years. If the trees / branches have no bark or rot and they are under 8 in diameter you should be good to go by time cold gets here. The larger diameter wood will need longer to dry.

    Good luck
  22. afblue

    afblue Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks for the response guys, I for sure will have next years wood sorted as early as possible and get myself ahead of the game. This year is going to be less than ideal, but if its the point of paying the gas bill because I dont have fully seasoned wood available is not an option. So I will keep researching what I can do to better my outcome, in preparation for a totally successful next year.

    My father could to do some sorting, but I know for sure that the wood that will be used this year has been dead for at least 2 years, just not cut and split, and the forest is dominant with maple and cherry, not much oak, so that can be put aside for this year. I will call myself a junior pyro, grew up 27 years in my parents house heating an 1100ft ranch with a 1980s Fisher stove and a Magic Heat. And I knew what it took to make a good fire in that, but my new EPA cert Quadra is going to take some time to get used to, and it may take a while for me to tactfully explain to my family, the wood we have been using for the past 25+ years needs a little more care for me to be able to burn it in my new insert.

    I guess what I am looking for is the economically best way to make it through this first year. Buying unverified "seasoned wood" in Nov is going to be expensive, but I wonder if I can with free pallets and BioBricks or equilavent and sorting the dryer wood for first use, if i can regulate a good heat output. I have a staircase to upstairs in close proximity to the insert location and centrally located in house, so that will create the majority of the draft upstairs. I am also looking at moving the livingroom cold air return to the top of the wall so it draws the heat directly into the ducts and selectively opening and closing vents and returns throughout the house to move my heat. Then from there will suplement with fans to move the cold air towards the living room.

    Does anyone have suggestions like Biobrick, or is there other alternatives I can look into purchasing? I am sure the less they have to be shipped the better the price will be. I also have a free Veggie fueled truck that I can drive 300+ miles to get a good/great deal on some. What is the going rate for biobricks in the NY/PA area?
  23. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    "all lumber is subjected to a lot of salt in its processing, and those hot salts are highly corrosive to your stove and chimney liner. "

    Your post reads "all lumber"!
    OP said "pallets" in which you were responding to!
  24. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    I hear you with Dad sorting wood into 4 piles when he's been burning wood for 30 years! good luck
    Knowing all that maybe you can get him to sort into 2 piles that's all I will do myself,
    Pile 1 wood ready for this year
    Pile 2 wood not ready for this year
    If you can keep alot of it over at his place and just take the veggie truck and bring home a few loads at a time finding a place outside if possible. You can add some wood scraps I found about 1/3 scraps in my burner worked good and a least you can get thru the worst of the winter this first one
  25. afblue

    afblue Feeling the Heat

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    Its going to get better every year. When spring hits, or late winter when the ground is still frozen we should be able to get to our land and get cutting and splitting for the next year and now that I am burning wood now, I will have alot more time for us to get the job done good and early and the wood will get seasoned more and more each year. I am very limited in space at my house so I think the summer project will get a nice big sized wood shed built that we can store both our wood in/under and I will just go down every few weeks to pick up a nice dry load next winter.
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