How important is top covering

Feb 2, 2020
104
Madison, WI
My stacks are top covered with tin roofing sections that were given to me by my wife's uncle (leftovers from his construction company). The sections are 10 ft long and I've just layered them over the bins that hold my cords. They are held down by wood screws as well as heavy odds and ends wood pieces that wouldn't fit good in my stacks. The wind (esp this year) has been a real PITA and I've had sections of roof come undone more than once, hence me adding the heavy wood pieces. I think I've finally got it to where it can't move, had 45 mph gusts over the weekend didn't seem to budge. I also notice with how I've placed the tin sheets over my bins the rain seems to run off the sides keeping the stacks dry. Heavy rain in the wind the wood is going to get wet no matter what and that's ok with me.
 

Woody5506

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2017
775
Rochester NY
Any time in the past where I haven't top covered I've just ended up really regretting it once it's time to burn that wood. Yeah it may be seasoned but if its damp it just sizzles and takes forever to get going. So I guess for me I really prefer burning dry wood, as in both seasoned and not subjected to 3 years worth of rain. I guess some people do ok burning damp wood.
 
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Dabster13

New Member
Nov 27, 2018
39
CT
Depends on the season for me. Spring - Fall, Anything not in my actual woodshed is uncovered, but once winter rolls around I'll throw tarps up on the uncovered piles. Don't want snow to just hang out on top or the wood.
 

BIGChrisNH

Feeling the Heat
Dec 16, 2015
467
New Hampshire
In Southern New Hampshire, if I didn't top cover my wood would rot. I've tried it, it doesn't work here. In a dryer climate maybe.
 
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Chris Cringle

New Member
May 11, 2020
5
Virginia
Every stack that is not in a shed I top cover, using vinyl corrugated roofing panels, 2-ft wide x 8-ft long pieces of plywood, scraps of plywood, occasionally a tarp. But only because I have to store my wood in the tree line. Rain combined with tree debris that falls throughout the year is like a bunch of continually damp sponges on my stacks. That leads to rot, mushrooms, etc. if my stacks were away from the wood line I wouldn’t cover, except for the stack I was burning through at that time.
 
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Brenda66

New Member
Apr 1, 2020
2
West Hartford
If you only burn a cord a year I wouldn’t worry about it.

The US forest service did a test in Alaska and found uncovered cord was subject to 110 gallons of rain water per year. I can only assume that would take longer to dry than wood covered from that.
For me if I don’t cover with a tarp it takes longer to get the wood hot enough to burn clean. I only have have about 4 cords of wood at any given time. Mostly hard wood but there is some pine mixed in.
 

red oak

Minister of Fire
Sep 7, 2011
1,289
northwest Virginia
Any longer than a year or two in Virginia and it should be covered. I used to not cover and had a problem with some wood rotting and leaves falling in between the stacks and trapping moisture. Wood burns much better now that it’s covered.
 

Welderman85

Feeling the Heat
Nov 1, 2017
264
Chesaning MI
I'm chesaning Michigan. I decided to try top covering I started with tarps until i come up with something better.
 

JotulOwner

Feeling the Heat
Oct 29, 2007
354
Long Island, New York
We get lots of wind, so I don’t bother top covering anymore. The wind was shredding the tarps, anyway.
Tarps are difficult to manage since most leak before long and then just trap the moisture they let in. Sometimes we still have to use them for one reason or another.
 

Stinkpickle

Feeling the Heat
Jan 13, 2015
485
Iowa
Tarps are difficult to manage since most leak before long and then just trap the moisture they let in. Sometimes we still have to use them for one reason or another.
Yeah, now I just use them in winter to keep snow and ice off the stacks I plan to burn.
 

Woody5506

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2017
775
Rochester NY
Honestly I don't even understand this debate. Try this experiment - Make a camp fire with wood that's been uncovered and another fire with equally seasoned wood that's been covered. Which one burns almost instantly clean???
 

Stinkpickle

Feeling the Heat
Jan 13, 2015
485
Iowa
Honestly I don't even understand this debate. Try this experiment - Make a camp fire with wood that's been uncovered and another fire with equally seasoned wood that's been covered. Which one burns almost instantly clean???
I do it all the time. Both burn fine. But I get plenty of sun and wind.
 
I do a little of all of the above. When I moved into our house last summer and inherited an outdoor wood furnace, I immediately built a small covered wood shed right next to the stove. My stove is on a steep hillside behind my house and where the stove is sitting had to be dug out. I have an old barn of sorts with an area to store a couple of cords of wood, but it is probably 300+ yards downhill of my furnace. I was concerned that once the snow fell and stayed for a while, getting wood up to the stove was going to be an issue. Of course, this winter was somewhat mild and hardly any snow. I was able to back my truck up the hill and unload right next to the stove. I covered enough to last a few weeks along with what fit in the small wood shed. My stove really used a lot of wood and once it was burning hot, it didn't really matter whether the wood was dry or not, it would always burn up every 12 hours. Where I live is very windy and tarps were always flapping and making noise along with tearing on split stuff.

With my woodpile being on a hillside, for now I am not stacking it, just piling it up. What I did try to stack, generally eventually fell over. I do plan on adding a larger covered wood shed in the near future, but this will be a project and I hope to do it on the cheap using some locust posts I can cut off of my property. I agree with most of the posters that it depends on your situation-climate, wood furnace type ect.
 

dyerkutn

Feeling the Heat
Jul 11, 2011
285
Boston NW suburbs
I have 6 cords drying in my back yard. Each set of 3 cords stays out there for 2-3 years. I don't cover. Too much work. I find that the spring, summer fall period here in MA is plenty of time to make up for whatever snow falls on it. Some years we can have several feet of snow but it pretty much melts away by March. It only really affects the top layer. I have been checking my ash level in my stove and pipe every spring when it is cleaned and never have more that a coffee can of ash. So I am assuming it is dry enough. I find the main factor is how many summers it is left out to dry. I should mention that I move it to a carport when I am ready to burn in the fall.
 
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buc74

Member
Oct 16, 2012
89
Fort Atkinson, WI
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My experience is top covering is a must and I try to cover right away. Of course the location is a big factor. I'm on the 3 year plan so the more wood I have the harder it is to keep covered up. Plastic pallets, blocks, and rubber roofing work well for me.