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The value of covering wood piles

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by richg, Jan 16, 2013.

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  1. richg

    richg Minister of Fire

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    Gang,

    I hope you are rockin as we gear up for a nasty cold spell in the northeast. Over the past few months I've been burning wood from the same batch and have distinctly different results. The wood is three year old ash and white oak; half of it was moved under my sun porch 05/2012 (no rain exposure), and the other half sat exposed to good sun and wind but uncovered. Well, the half that was uncovered burns like concrete, even when I bring it inside a week before burning and let it dehumidify and warm up. The wood that was put under my sun room burns like a Roman Candle and is heating the house like no tomorrow. Your results may vary, but the upshot of this is that I'm going to buy sheets of metal roofing to keep rain off the stacks.

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  2. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    I've always been a firm believer in top-covering your woodstacks.....
    In our area, it just makes sense. It's monsoon season from late August to late October anymore, if I didn't top-cover I'd be up chit creek with no paddle......
  3. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Finally - a post that gives a real- world experience showing the value of top covering. I totally agree, top covering is the way to go.

    All this bunk I hear about "it's only the internal cellular moisture that matters" - and "let it dry a week" - never worked for me.

    Thanks for the "concrete" proof!
  4. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Some guys in certain climates can get away without covering, but not here. I have half of my 25 cord covered, the other half is not. The wood that is NOT covered won't burn worth chit......tried a piece of honey locust that's been C/S/S for almost three years and I can tell you that for a fact. But the covered stuff, burns like nobody's business.....
  5. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    amen
  6. wood thing

    wood thing Member

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    Don't forget to get it off the ground as well. Use some old pallets or rails. This helps as much as the cover. Good luck & happy burning.
  7. legrandice

    legrandice Burning Hunk

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    good to hear this comparison. Growing up we never covered our wood piles. Just threw the wood into our smoke dragon stoves and burned it hot. Now that my parents have one cat stove and a PE summit...they cover their piles. It makes a huge difference for them.
    Backwoods Savage and ScotO like this.
  8. RORY12553

    RORY12553 Minister of Fire

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    I have to fix the roof on my wood shed so i covered the stacks under there and what a difference. Try to leave wood outside I don't like to much in the house due to bugs etc so I usually only bring in enough for 2 days tops so it is important it is dry outside!
    ScotO likes this.
  9. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    I am having similar results this year with 2+ year old Red Elm. Sizzle & Fizzle :confused: The Mulberry that is mixed in with it is burning okay, not perfect. I'm hoping things get better as I get deeper into the stack. Need a friggin woodshed.
    ScotO likes this.
  10. husky345 vermont resolute

    husky345 vermont resolute Member

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  11. husky345 vermont resolute

    husky345 vermont resolute Member

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    i hear ya rich i trully believe in covering my stack as well. This year was the first year i tried and all i can say is what a difference. Just using tarps now but im gonna get me some metal roofing or something of the like. keep up the good work rich. My pile is 90% ash. Pretty hard to beat ash with its ease of splitting , endless dying trees due to eab, not to mention the amazing btus it puts out.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  12. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Until the snow comes, I cover my stacks on rainy days, remove the covers on sunny days. Onc snow comes, they stay covered. Too much of a pain to deal with the covers then. Works well.
    TreePointer likes this.
  13. fabsroman

    fabsroman Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, I don't have that problem. The majority of my stacks are out in the weather year round, with 1.5 cords stacked under the deck. I burn what is stacked under the deck first and move wood to those racks as each one runs out (i.e., there are two racks under the deck by the back door). I then have a half rack that I keep inside by the furnace. I really have not had a problem with stuff lighting and burning.

    Before I realized that I needed to have the damper set so the chimney would give -.03 WC draft instead of -.3 WC, everything burned like a Roman Candle. Now, with the draft set properly, I get a nice controlled burn that keeps a ton more heat in the firebox (i.e., a lot less going up the chimney) and my burn times are a lot longer. I think I finally have this wood burning furnace figured out, and even have my wife firing it up now. I was sick as a dog this morning and the house was at 70 degrees. She said she was going to put the furnace on, but would need me to throw larger logs on it later in the day. Man, she had that thing cooking. Guess that is what happens when you marry a woman that lived in Florida for 10 years.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  14. Hickorynut

    Hickorynut Burning Hunk

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    I have had red oak start to rot under the bark after about 3 years not covered. Other woods will too. So I cover after about two years using 6 mil black plastic 5 ft. wide with about 1 1/2 ft stapled on one side, then up and over the top and stapled down on the other side. Standard operating procedure. The 6 mil black plastic seems to last several years in the hot sun without ripping and leaking too.
  15. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Covering the top of a wood stack "is not" over-rated !
    When wood gets wet close to burn season, it may not dry out till spring :)

    IMO; In most climates, top covered wood is drier wood ;)
    Thistle and ScotO like this.
  16. fabsroman

    fabsroman Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, hoping to have a huge shed by the time any of my wood hits the 3 year point. That should take care of any long term issue. Once the wood hits 20% moisture content, into the shed it will be going.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  17. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I don't cover my stacks and I find that most of the wood burns great, but there are always a few pieces that aren't as dry as most. I think it is because water drains through the stack in a particular way that causes a few splits to get wetter than average. Most of the wet splits just dry out, but some are a little punky or maybe have a shape that holds water and causes them to end up soggy.
    f3cbboy likes this.
  18. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I don't bother with top covering and just let the snow build up on top . . . BUT . . . after Year 1 of being outside I bring the wood into the woodshed which is pretty well ventilated for another year or so before burning it in Year 3.
  19. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    I'm definitely down with the top cover. I don't care if the water is inside my firewood or on the outside of my firewood. It's still water.

    If you take two identicle stacks of wood, top cover one, and leave the other uncovered. There is no question the top covered one will absolutely be drier and last way longer than the other in the vast majority of climates.
    rideau and Backwoods Savage like this.
  20. ohlongarm

    ohlongarm Minister of Fire

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    Top covering amen,I've got wood covered top only since 2004 burns like a ***** ape.Would not ever NOT top cover my stacks.When fall comes I move into the woodshed what I need for winter works 100%.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  21. Brewmonster

    Brewmonster Burning Hunk

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    Nice to see such consensus on this oft-debated subject! Many times I've read,"I don't cover my wood and it burns just fine." (Sorry, Wood Duck, I agree with you about just about everything, but not this.) To which I say, "did you ever compare it to wood that HAD been top-covered?" I bet not. If your wood is "punky," "soggy," growing mushrooms, shedding bark because the cambium layer is rotten, etc., etc., then it is NOT dry.

    All my wood is stacked on pallets and then covered with pallets turned 90 degrees to give some overhang on the sides. Five-foot wide recycled billboard material over all (hangs about six inches over) and I've got what I call a "simulated woodshed." Air on top. sides, and bottom, no rain penetration. You cannot tell me that wood that gets rained on two or three times a week (as here) will dry anywhere near as fast. My wood never stops drying; uncovered wood cannot get any drier on the inside until all that surface water evaporates. Like anything else, water diffuses from an area of greater concentration towards an area of lower concentration; if it's wet on the outside, interior moisture will not move in that direction. Instead, the water on the outside will diffuse inward.

    "Seasoning" is a BS term and I think we should eliminate it from our vocabulary. Wood that sits out in the rain may be "seasoned" but it sure ain't dry.
  22. TimJ

    TimJ Minister of Fire

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    Wood that sits out in the rain sure ain't dry but it sure is 2 days later when the sun comes out.
  23. Brewmonster

    Brewmonster Burning Hunk

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    Sorry, TimJ, I just don't believe it. Everything else in the world gets soggy when rained on and I don't think wood is a magical exception. The time that you're waiting for the sun and wind to bring your wood back to its before-the-rain condition is time when no drying is happening. Why not just cover and make steady progress rather than having every rain storm set you back?
  24. TimJ

    TimJ Minister of Fire

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    Brew, you are right. If you are bringing wood to the stove direct from your stack you will be bringing in wet wood. That is why most have a staging area for wood before it hits the stove ( examples are the porch, wood shed, rack etc. that allows the wood a couple days to dry ( which it does )
    Thistle, AJS56 and Backwoods Savage like this.
  25. Foragefarmer

    Foragefarmer Member

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    It has been raining here for 4 days straight. Just turning to snow. I hate to think what my wood would be like if I didn't have a covered stone patio and a barn to keep everything covered. I know I would cover my stacks if I had to keep them outside.

    Given the fact that I burn a lot of variously aged standing dead. Punky wood also = fewer BTU's in my book.
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