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Think I was sold unseasoned wood

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by SpencerRice, Jan 5, 2013.

  1. SpencerRice

    SpencerRice New Member

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    I'm extremely new to wood burning, so bear with me as I try to explain things without sounding like too much of an idiot.

    Me and my wife are newlyweds, and decided to rent a home while saving to purchase one. The house we are renting has a standard wood burning fireplace, and neither of us have experience with fireplaces. When we moved in there was a bit of firewood in the garage leftover that we used, and it burned well but very quickly, possibly due to us not knowing what we were doing.

    When that ran out I went on Craigslist and found someone that looked professional, it's a company and I ordered 1/2 cord of "seasoned oak". It came and the guys stacked it in my garage. I didn't know to check for anything, so I'm sure I should have looked at it upon delivery but I didn't. Now the fun part, we can't get it to burn. It just chars and every now and then we'll get a flame, but nothing like the old wood we had. It also smokes horribly and sizzles, which I'm assuming is the moisture burning up. The wood also feels very heavy compared to the old wood.

    I guess my question is, what can I do from here? We had a ton of rain for about a week straight right before I ordered, so is it possible that the wood absorbed some of the rain moisture and will dry out somewhat quickly? I don't have room for more wood, so I'm kind of lost what to do from here. We were really enjoying the fires.

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  2. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    Your assumption is correct. Find someone that sells kiln dried wood if you want a nice fire. You will not get seasoned wood delivered unless you are very very lucky. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you're in the NY/NJ area and someone just pawned off a few month old Sandy wood. I think most of us that have bought wood before learned this the hard way. On the other hand, pick up some of the duraflame fire starters (maybe if the full sized logs)...build your wood in a criss cross square with some kindling/newspapers stuffed in). That will funnel the air around the wood while the duraflame log burns. You'll have a fire, but it will hiss and steam and produce absolutely little to no heat. But you'll get a coal bed and it will get slightly better when you keep adding the wet wood (slowly or you'll smother it again). You could also mix in some kiln dried and green wood, but I woudn't do anything worse than 3:1 based on what you've described.
  3. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    If I understand correctly this is an open fireplace and burning just for fun? If you can, get some pallets or lumber scraps to mix in with the wet (yeah its not seasoned) wood. There are also wood bricks that you can buy which would do the same thing but cost a few bucks. If it is truly unseasoned oak you may be in for a time getting it to burn but with enough dry scraps you can still enjoy the fireplace.

    Since you mentioned you are very new to wood burning you should know that an open fireplace will steal heat from your house so if you are trying to heat this way it will not work. Standing right if front of it might feel good but go in the next room after you've had a fire going for a couple hours. All the heat goes right up the chimney.

    Lastly wet wood creates a lot of creosote. Have the chimney swept and checked out. Can't tell you how often since there are too many variables but if you burn regularly maybe after you get through 1/4 cord have it looked at again.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  4. SpencerRice

    SpencerRice New Member

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    Thanks for the replies.

    I'm not in the northeast, actually in Atlanta. We don't use it as a real source of heat, but my wife and labrador do like to lay in front of it while it's going. I can't believe it though, it seemed like a very reputable company and had great reviews. I'll be out of this house before it's seasoned, big bummer.

    Thanks for the help!
  5. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    Unfortunately, not much you can do. If it really IS oak, it can take years to get to a moisture level good enough to burn. Did you call the guy back and let him know it's junk? There are A LOT of horror stories of CL wood purchases. A moisture meter is about $25 and most agree that "seasoned" wood should be under 20%. A few days of rain most likely isn't the problem. Wood should be cut, spilt, stacked at least a year to burn well. Just because a tree was "down" for year but not cut and split, doesn't make it seasoned. If the guys won't take it back or replace it, stack it outside and try again or get some bundles from your hardware/grocery store, since they are really dry, and try to mix them in. If that oak is that green, just sizzling, there is not quick fix, sorry :(
  6. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    Spencer... I went through this last year before getting some kiln dried and a wood insert. The insert isn't an option since you're renting, but you can get some nice flames going if you do what I mentioned above. It's no going to be the ambient fire with nothing but crackle you're looking for, but once you get it going with a starter log and keep it stacked high/funnel like, you'll at least get the nice flame part. The wood I bought last year was mostly oak and is still not ready this year. It's a lot easier to burn that in an open fireplace with lots of air than an EPA stove. Be careful though. I'm originally from GA and all of my family lives there. Amazing how no one cleans their chimneys down there. My Aunt and Uncle had a news years party a few years back and were fortunate that someone went out to smoke and noticed the flames pouring out of their chimney and they were able to get it out before any real damaged occured.
  7. HDRock

    HDRock Minister of Fire

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    One thing U could do , is take your 1/2 cord to a saw mill that can kiln dry it . Would take, I think, a couple of weeks
    I don't know what it would cost , but It won't cost, to call and ask
    Yes U have to be careful but, U CAN buy seasoned wood, last face cord I bought was 16% MC delivered and stacked $55
  8. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I wouldn't be too surprised that you bought wet wood, even though the seller may me a reputable company. Most firewood sellers deal in unseasoned wood, or their definition of seasoned means stacked a few weeks after splitting, or maybe the wood sat around in log form for a year and was cut and split when you ordered it. I think some of those sellers know they aren't really selling seasoned wood, but a lot of them honestly believe they are.

    I know that doesn't help you much with your wood right now. One place to look is a construction site, perhaps something like a new house going up. There are always lots of short pieces of 2x4, etc. that get thrown away and might be yours for the asking. As long as the wood isn't treated lumber you can burn it, and it burns hot and fast. Mixed with wet oak you will have a decent fire.
  9. DanCorcoran

    DanCorcoran Minister of Fire

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    I don't think the seller cheated you. Based on years of reading on this website, it is virtually impossible to find someone who delivers dry wood (less than 20% moisture content) without doing some research and questioning. I think you got what 95% of folks get when they get a load of wood delivered, unless the seller has represented a specific moisture content.

    I understand that you're disappointed, but I don't think you should feel "cheated".
  10. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Stack it on the sunny side of the house and cover just the top. In Jawja it will be ready for fireplace burning by next Fall.
  11. Ralphie Boy

    Ralphie Boy Minister of Fire

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    Hear's the deal as I see it. If a person is going to buy wood then the buyer should tell the seller up front that the buyer will check a few, 3-4, splits pulled at random from the truck. If the reading on the buyer's MM does not read a acceptable level to the buyer; the buyer reserves the right to refuse delivery. If the seller won't play by the buyer's rules then most likely the buyer does not want or need whe the seller is offering. If the seller agrees to the terms and the wood does not pass muster then the load is refused and there should be no hard feelings. It could also open the door for the buyer to get a better price on a product the can be used next season. Just my opinion and we all know the old saying about opinions!==c
  12. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum Spencer and congratulations to the newlyweds! May this bring happiness to both of you.

    You are not an idiot and this is not a new story for us as we see this many times every year. You simply can't buy wood and expect it to be ready to burn. It just doesn't happen or if it does, it is a rare thing. Well, I've sold some and I'll guarantee it is dry because we are many years ahead on our wood supply. And for what its worth, we won't burn oak until it has been split and stacked for 3 years.

    The good thing is this fireplace is not used to heating the house but it would be nice if you want to have a fire to be able to burn the wood. Kiln dried is probably your only way to go.
  13. schlot

    schlot Minister of Fire

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    Tough break, but don't feel you are the only one getting taken by a "reputable" dealer. Live and learn and enjoy!

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