Wood Left in the Rain

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Regrading the driveway, so had to move my wood pile (primarily ash, but a bit of oak and maple mixed in), which has been split and under cover since last fall. Just as I was finishing moving it a rain storm came through. Not an epic 3-day storm, just the summer downpour, but the wood is getting a bit wet, as you’d expect. I’ll have a tarp over it while the driveway is being dealt with (after the sun dries up what it can) and it it’ll be stacked back up and covered again in a couple days.

My question is, How far back does that kind of dampness set drying? How concerned should I be?

I know the correct solution is a permanent roof, and medium term a wood shed is on the to-do list, but it’s a list a mile long.
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,941
Woolwich nj
I wouldn't be to concerned. as long as its not sitting in a large pile for an extended period of time. It will absorb some water but as long as it starts to dry out right away you'll n
be fine. the water taken in will not be in the core of the wood only the surface will take it up
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
695
Upstate NY
I leave all my outside stacks uncovered all summer. Stacked but not covered. I think that getting wet from the rain and drying again over and over all summer actually makes the wood dry faster.
 
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I leave all my outside stacks uncovered all summer. Stacked but not covered. I think that getting wet from the rain and drying again over and over all summer actually makes the wood dry faster.
this makes intuitive sense, for whatever reason 🤷

have you ever tried testing that notion?
 

Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,834
Southeast CT
An occasional getting wet won’t hurt anything. I do subscribe to the idea that top covering is always best but what your describing is a non- issue. If you always left it uncovered I’d say that it will take longer to dry, but you’re not in that boat. To boot, CT has had a very dry summer so far so you are probably ahead of the game overall anyhow.
 
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bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
926
Utah & NJ
An occasional getting wet won’t hurt anything. I do subscribe to the idea that top covering is always best but what your describing is a non- issue. If you always left it uncovered I’d say that it will take longer to dry, but you’re not in that boat. To boot, CT has had a very dry summer so far so you are probably ahead of the game overall anyhow.
Yes Dry but also humid, at least here in NJ. But it's always humid here, just less rain than usual.
 

Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,834
Southeast CT
Yes Dry but also humid, at least here in NJ. But it's always humid here, just less rain than usual.
Yup, often quite humid here in SE CT in the summers, honestly I think it’s only getting worse. I often wonder if equal or perhaps better drying happens here in the spring or fall.
 

bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
926
Utah & NJ
Yup, often quite humid here in SE CT in the summers, honestly I think it’s only getting worse. I often wonder if equal or perhaps better drying happens here in the spring or fall.
Yeah i think fall may be best around here with dryer air and frequent winds. Just depends on how many rain days factor in. Quick gauge is how long does it take for your bath towels to dry when hung on the same towel bars with the house windows open.
Most wood dampness questions can be figured out by imagining splits as rolled up wet towels. Think how long they dry in piles, on the ground, in the air, hung from lines, folded or not folded, tightly twisted or loosely twisted.

Think of your stack like stacked wet towels.
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
695
Upstate NY
this makes intuitive sense, for whatever reason 🤷

have you ever tried testing that notion?
I haven’t tried testing it. I think that @begreen did test it though. Or maybe it’s still an ongoing test. I remember reading in a thread a few months back that he was taking 3 splits of wood and putting them different places. To be tested for MC later. I think one was inside the house, the second was outside but covered, and the third was outside uncovered. But now I don’t remember which thread that was in.
 
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Eightball1313

Member
Sep 24, 2019
61
Poconos, Pa
put it this way, i never cover any of my wood, and its plenty dry to burn come the season. i also dont even try to season my wood for that long, as at least where im from it doesnt need a year plus to dry out, its plenty dry after a few months. i wouldnt worry about it getting rained on once, i personally believe the only advantage to covering wood is for in the winter when it snows because its no fun having to bring in arm loads of wood with snow caked on it, other than that i think its fine for it to get rained on, i will burn!
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
18,370
Philadelphia
i also dont even try to season my wood for that long, as at least where im from it doesnt need a year plus to dry out, its plenty dry after a few months.
I'm not far from you, and I definitely notice a difference between 1 summer, 2 summers, and 3 summers drying, esp. any species of oak. But don't believe me, set 1 cord aside this summer, and try just a bit of it each of the next three seasons, to compare to the rest of your wood. You will see.

With regard to top covering and rain, I wouldn't worry. I did all combinations of top covering over the years, and found that being covered at all over the summer really didn't nudge the MC% much one way or the other. Since plastic sheeting and tarps both fail with UV exposure, my preferred approach became covering only what I'd be using the coming winter, at the end of each summer, and leaving everything else un-covered.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
99,050
South Puget Sound, WA
I haven’t tried testing it. I think that @begreen did test it though. Or maybe it’s still an ongoing test. I remember reading in a thread a few months back that he was taking 3 splits of wood and putting them different places. To be tested for MC later. I think one was inside the house, the second was outside but covered, and the third was outside uncovered. But now I don’t remember which thread that was in.
Yes, I did, but I lost my scratch notes that had the numbers. The results kind of came out the way one would expect. The indoor split shed moisture rapidly. It was burnable in 3 weeks. The outdoor covered one lost moisture at a slower but notable pace, and the one left outside in the weather didn't change too much after 2 months. That said, we had a particularly wet and cold spring. Also, this was with doug fir. I suspect oak or madrona would have been a different story.

I had a bad experience covering the uneven tops of stacks of soft maple with tarp, so now I do like Ashful suggests. I leave the hardwood uncovered for a year before moving it into the shed for the second year of drying.
 

bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
926
Utah & NJ
I'm not far from you, and I definitely notice a difference between 1 summer, 2 summers, and 3 summers drying, esp. any species of oak. But don't believe me, set 1 cord aside this summer, and try just a bit of it each of the next three seasons, to compare to the rest of your wood. You will see.

With regard to top covering and rain, I wouldn't worry. I did all combinations of top covering over the years, and found that being covered at all over the summer really didn't nudge the MC% much one way or the other. Since plastic sheeting and tarps both fail with UV exposure, my preferred approach became covering only what I'd be using the coming winter, at the end of each summer, and leaving everything else un-covered.
I'm pretty much in this boat too.
 

ericm979

Feeling the Heat
Nov 2, 2018
302
California
I leave mine uncovered all summer but we don't get rain in the summer here, so there's no down side to doing it. A single summer uncovered can get Madrone and Tan oak dry enough to make my EPA stove happy but a second year is noticeably better.

We get a lot of rain in the winter so wood absolutely needs to be covered then.
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,834
WI, Leroy
got to top cover stacks at least by late fall, as we tend to get a bunch rain and then the freezing temps set in and it doesn't dry back out.
 
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Split

Member
Aug 28, 2022
144
Nova Scotia, Canada
I leave all my outside stacks uncovered all summer. Stacked but not covered. I think that getting wet from the rain and drying again over and over all summer actually makes the wood dry faster.
This is what I've done and I find when it rains it gets just as dry as it was within hours of sunshine.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
8,052
Northern NH
Green wood has two types of moisture, bound and unbound. The description of roll of papertowels could be modified to describe wood as a bundle of tiny straws held together with glue between the straws. Unbound moisture is inside the straws, bound is in the solid spaces between the straws. The unbound water comes out to the straws pretty quickly but the stuff in the solid spaces between the straws has to slowly go through cell walls and separate out from non condensables on the way out into the straws. That takes a lot longer is and is considerably sped up by heat and low humidity. Once the temp go below freezing things take a lot more time.
 
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