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Choosing The Right Wood For Your Fire

Not all firewood is created equal. The type of firewood you use in your wood burning fireplace or stove can have an impact on many aspects on your fire. These include the heat, smoke, and duration of a fire, as well as affecting the overall condition of your fireplace system. Firewood choice often comes down to personal preference. However, there are several rules and guidelines that homeowners should follow when choosing the right wood for their fireplace.

The Right Wood For Your Fire Image - San Francisco CA - Fireplace Safety ServicesHard VS Soft Woods

Firewood is categorized as either a hard wood or a soft wood based on the type of tree it is made from.

Hard woods: Hard woods are heavy, dense woods from trees whose leaves change color in the fall such as ash, birch, maple, and oak. Hard woods are known for burning at hotter temperatures, creating longer lasting fires, and producing less smoke. Having said that, hard woods can be difficult to ignite. Therefore making them a good choice for firewood – but a poor choice for kindling.

Soft woods: Soft woods are from trees with needle leaves such as evergreens, firs, pines, and spruces. While they ignite quickly and are excellent for use as kindling, soft woods produce more smoke and burn at a lower temperature. Combined with the fragrant aromas they can produce, soft woods are often ideal for use in outdoor firepits or when smoking meats.

Seasoned Wood

Whether your prefer hard or soft wood, all firewood should be properly seasoned before burning. Seasoning doesn’t refer to your use of spices in the kitchen; seasoned firewood is wood that has been cut into logs, stacked, and allowed to dry through exposure to wind and sun. The seasoning process helps remove the majority of the moisture content in the wood; while freshly cut firewood has a moisture content as high as 50%, seasoning wood reduces this to as little as 10-15%.

Burning seasoned firewood produces less smoke and creates hotter fires than freshly cut or green wood. Likewise, using seasoned firewood in your indoor fireplace produces less creosote. In doing this, it helps to reduce your risk of accidental chimney fire.

Buy Local

Few homeowners stop to consider where their wood comes from; however, buying locally grown and harvested wood can help protect local tree populations against disease or insect infestations. Even cut and seasoned wood can still carry tree-killing bacteria or insects; buying firewood from more than 50 miles away can expose local trees to outside infestations.

Homeowners should attempt to buy firewood that is grown less than 10 miles from home. Do you plan on transporting wood? If so, look for heat-treated firewood labeled with a USDA APHIS treatment seal.

What To Avoid

Not all wood is appropriate to burn in your fireplace. Previously treated or painted wood such as old decking or fencing should not be burned. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends “never burn coated, painted, or pressure-treated wood because it releases toxic chemicals when burned.”

Using the right firewood can help you get the most out of your fireplace this winter. For more information on how to choose the right firewood for your home contact Fireplace Safety Services today!

Let Us Help Troubleshoot Your Chimney

While most of us know how to safely operate our fireplaces, performance problems leave us perplexed. Whether it’s a drafty flue, a persistent leak, or an odor, chimney problems can quickly render a fireplace unusable.

If your fireplace is experiencing performance problems, don’t despair! The staff at Fireplace Safety Services are experts at troubleshooting  chimney issues to uncover the root cause of the problem.

Troubleshooting Fireplace Performance Problems

Let Us Help Troubleshoot Your Chimney - San Francisco CA - Fireplace Safety ServicesBecause fireplaces and chimneys are made up of a number of different components, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what is causing a performance problem. In order to pinpoint the cause of a specific fireplace or chimney problem, a chimney inspection is often necessary.

Chimney inspections are an important diagnostic tool when troubleshooting fireplace performance problems. There are three levels of chimney inspection; the type of chimney inspection your home requires will depend on the condition of the chimney as well as any damage it may have sustained.

Common Fireplace and Chimney Issues

While a chimney inspection done by a certified chimney sweep is the best way to identify the specific cause of a performance problem, there a number of fireplace issues that can be easily identified. The following are just a few of the most common fireplace and chimney issues homeowners experience.

 

  • Drafting issues. Incorrect drafting causes smoke to back up into your home, smoky odors to linger, or fires to burn sluggishly. There are a number of things that can cause drafting problems; the answer might be as simple as opening a nearby window to let fresh air into an airtight house or as complex as changing the height of the chimney to prevent downdrafts. Incorrect use of the damper, an improperly sized flue, or chimney blockages are also potential causes of drafting issues.
  • Lingering odors. Improper drafting is just one of the many causes of chimney odors. Leftover nesting materials or food from animal entry, the excessive buildup of creosote in the flue, or mold and mildew growth from an unrepaired leak can all cause lingering odors. Identifying the source of the odor is the best way to keep it from returning permanently.
  • Creosote buildup. While creosote can cause smoky odors to linger in your home, it also creates a serious safety hazard. Creosote is a naturally occurring byproduct of combustion but is highly flammable. In addition, creosote buildup in the flue significantly increases the risk of chimney fire if not regularly swept. Having annual chimney sweepings, burning seasoned hardwoods, and preventing fires from smoldering at low temperatures can all prevent excessive creosote buildup.
  • Leaks. A chimney leak can damage your chimney and fireplace in a number of ways. While exterior masonry is designed to withstand the elements, more delicate interior fireplace components can be easily damaged by water. Likewise, the presence of water in the dark and cool chimney can encourage mold and mildew growth; this leads to serious odors and can affect the air quality in your home.

Don’t let the cause of your chimney issues remain a mystery. Instead, call the experts at Fireplace Safety Services today. Our expert staff can help troubleshoot your chimney issues and get you back to enjoying your fireplace faster.

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