Firewood Victoria BC – Hints and Tips
How to Prepare or Buy Good Firewood
Firewood Victoria BC Hints and Tips is a page of good ideas helpful in keeping your wood burning appliances is good clean working condition allowing you to operate your equipment without making unnecessary deposits in your chimneys.
Is Properly Prepared and Seasoned Firewood actually Carbon Neutral?
Here is an explanation from ICC/RSF – the Chimney People
Using energy from the sun, nature’s carbon cycle goes around, from the atmosphere to the forest and back. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air as they grow. In fact, about half their dry weight is this absorbed carbon. As old trees die and decay, or are consumed in a forest fire, their carbon is again released to the air as carbon dioxide. This is nature’s carbon cycle.
When firewood is used as an energy source, part of the natural carbon cycle is brought into our homes to heat them. A fire on the hearth releases the solar energy stored by the tree as it grew. If the entire fuel cycle is considered, a clean burning EPA rated Wood Stove, Fireplace Insert or Factory Built Fireplace will heat your home more efficiently and with lower environmental impact than any other fuel option.
The other fuel options — oil, gas and coal — are fossil fuels, and when they are burned, old carbon that was buried deep within the earth is released to the atmosphere. The rising concentration of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use is linked to global warming, climate change and the unusual weather we’ve seen in recent years.
A wood fire does not contribute to global warming because no more carbon dioxide is released than the natural forest would release if left untouched. Using wood for heat means less fossil fuels burned, less greenhouse gas emissions, and a healthier environment.
What is Good Firewood?
Good firewood has been cut to the correct length for the stove, split to a range of sizes and stacked in the open until its moisture content is reduced to 12% to 20 per cent. Even when burned properly using a flue gas thermometer – Wet Firewood over 20% creates dangerous creosote buildups requiring frequent chimney cleaning while drier that 12% firewood burns too fast and doesn’t give proper heat value.
Tudor England folks were required by law to clean their unlined fireplace chimneys monthly to avoid chimney fires which often burned half the village down.
Materials That Should Not be Burned In Your Wood Stove or Fireplace Insert
While it is tempting to just clean up some trash Read this first!
Any Wet Firewood over 20% moisture content! Burning Garbage in a Wood Stove Burning garbage produces unpredictable results because, unlike seasoned firewood, garbage contains a whole range of materials and chemicals that react when burned together. For example, household garbage contains various forms of paper and plastics. When paper and plastics are burned, you don't really destroy them, you just change their chemical form. The inks and dyes used for the coloring and printing of paper and plastics add to the chemical cocktail that is emitted when they are burned. The problem with burning any kind of garbage is that you just don't know what the resulting pollutants will be. One of the pollutants that results when paper, plastics and salt water driftwood are burned in a wood stove is dioxin, a highly toxic chemical that doesn't decompose and which builds up in the tissues of animals and humans. Airborne dioxin settles in soils and on vegetation, some of which may then be eaten by livestock. Dioxin builds up in fats in the body and is concentrated in cows milk and even in human mother's milk.
Here are Some More No Nos
• COAL OR CHARCOAL - Wood stoves are not designed to withstand the repeated high heats of a coal fire. There are some combination stoves but these do not meet EPA requirements when burning wood only as they are primarily coal stoves. • PLYWOOD OR PARTICLE BOARD - As well as releasing toxins to the atmosphere and living spaces, coating chimney liners with flammable deposits glues are unpredictable and can cause over firing leading to chimney fires or damage to equipment • MANUFACTURED LOGS CONTAINING WAX OR CHEMICAL ADDITIVES - The firelogs to avoid are those held together with petroleum wax because of their significantly higher CO2 emissions and for their possible adverse health effects. • RAILROAD TIES - Contain creosote which accumulates rapidly in your system, releases toxins to the atmosphere and your living space and can cause runaway fires. • LIQUIDS SUCH AS KEROSENE OR DIESEL FUEL TO START A FIRE - Releases toxins to atmosphere and your living spaces, can cause and likely will result in runaway fires which ignite creosote already in chimney system as well as ignite spilled material through the appliances ash dump area or on hearth. Special note on Corn and Pellets is that they require a fan forcing air to them to burn completely and do not do this in a wood stove not designed specifically for pellets resulting in a large waste of fuel.
Firewood Victoria BC – Tree Species
The tree species the firewood is produced from is less important than its moisture content. The main difference in firewood from various tree species is the density of the wood. Hardwoods are denser than softwoods. People who live in the coldest regions of North America usually have only spruce, birch and poplar, other low-density species to burn and yet they can heat their homes successfully.
Vancouver Island itself is blessed with large quantities of Douglas Fir and Arbutus which, when properly seasoned, are both great firewood candidates.
Cedar makes just about the best natural kindling you can get. It splits easily, lights easily and burns hot. It also spits and crackles so it is not good in an open fireplace. Also, if you are burning it in an open fireplace, you might find it doesn't last long. If you burn it in a stove, you will find it makes a smoky fire if you turn down the air. We do not recommend using as a main source of firewood because of all the clogged chimneys we see as chimney sweeps - most are a result of improperly burning wet cedar.
My attitude is there is no bad firewood except wet stuff and logs you can’t split. Most of the rest depends on how you use it.
Homeowners with access to both hardwood and softwood fuel sometimes use both types for different purposes. For example, softer woods make good fuel for relatively mild weather in spring and fall because they light quickly and produce less heat Softwoods are not as dense as hardwoods so a given volume of wood contains less energy. Using softwoods avoids overheating the house, which can be a common problem with wood heating in moderate weather. Harder woods are best for colder winter weather when more heat and longer burn cycles are desirable. To pre-plan which type of wood you’re going to need for the week or month, you could consider investing into a variety of Weather Meters so you’re always going to be prepared for any type of weather.
Note that hardwood trees like oak, maple, ash and beech are slower growing and longer lived than softer woods like poplar and birch. That makes hardwood trees more valuable. The advice that only hardwoods are good to burn is outdated. Old, leaky cast iron stoves wouldn’t hold a fire overnight unless they were fed large pieces of hardwood. That is no longer true. You can successfully heat your home by using the less desirable tree species and give the forest a break at the same time.
Logs should be cut about 1” (25 mm) shorter than the firebox so they fit in easily. Pieces that are even slightly too long make loading the stove very difficult. The most common standard length of firewood is 16” (400 mm).
The pieces should be a consistent length, with a maximum of 1” (25 mm) variation from piece to piece.
Firewood dries more quickly when it is split. Large unsplit rounds can take years to dry enough to burn. Even when dried, unsplit logs are difficult to ignite because they don’t have the sharp edges where the flames first catch. Logs as small as 3” (75 mm) should be split to encourage drying.
Wood should be split to a range of sizes, from about 3” to 6” (75 mm to 150 mm) in cross section. Having a range of sizes makes starting and rekindling fires much easier. Often, the firewood purchased from commercial suppliers is not split finely enough for convenient stoking. It is sometimes advisable to resplit the wood before stacking to dry.
Firewood that is not dry enough to burn is the cause of most complaints about wood stoves. The complaints usually involve a lack of heat and dirty door glass.
Firewood Victoria BC Drying Time Tips
Here are some things to consider in estimating drying time:
Check your Firewood with a Moisture Meter
• firewood takes a long time to dry
• firewood bought from a dealer is rarely dry enough to burn, so it is advisable to buy the wood in spring and dry it yourself
• drying happens faster in dry weather than in damp, maritime climates
• drying happens faster in warm summer weather than in winter weather
• small pieces dry more quickly than large pieces
• split pieces dry more quickly than unsplit rounds
• softwoods take less time to dry than hardwoods
• softwoods like pine, spruce, and poplar/aspen can be dry enough to burn after being stacked in the open for only the summer months • hardwoods like oak, maple and ash can take one, or even two years to dry fully, especially if the pieces are big
• firewood dries more quickly when stacked in the open where it is exposed to sun and wind; it takes much longer to dry when stacked in a wood shed
• firewood that is ready to burn has a moisture content between 12 and 20% by weight and will allow your stove to produce its highest possible efficiency
Roland von Schellwitz, B.Eng
Victoria BC’s “Flue Guru”
WETT Certified Chimney Services
10 Years Successful Contracting and Trade Experience
- Local “Owner Operator” Family Business Serving Greater Victoria BC
- Trained by the late Dean Brandhagen, Master Tradesman ( Interprovincial RedSeal Journeyman Brick Mason since 1973, Journeyman Carpenter since 1988, Journeyman Concrete Technician)
- WETT Certified Wood Heat Professional System Advisor, Inspector, Installer and Chimney Sweep
- Engineering graduate: Systems Engineering UVic, 2004
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Annual Inspections and Cleaning
- Since 1 in every 7 House fires is caused by a wood burning appliance – BC Fire Code and most Insurance Companies Require Annual Inspections & Cleanings on Wood Burning Devices.
Our Chimney Sweep Service
- Depending on type of fuel and your burning habits – it may be necessary to clean your chimney more often than annually – but generally an annual sweep and inspection will remove any debris, creosote, critters or bird nests.
- WETT Certified Inspection Reports for Insurance or Building Permits for your Wood Burning Equipment Click to book Starts at $140
- Annual Fireplace Chimney Cleaning Service available – Starts at $140 (Insurance Company Acceptable) Click to book Starts at $140
- Wood Burning Stove and Insert Cleaning- We have specialized tools to protect chimney liners from damages during cleaning. Click to book Starts at $140
- Creosote Deglazing – Sometimes creosote from smoldering fires or wet wood can accumulate in the flue. This needs to be dealt with using different equipment and methods. Contact us for quote
- Note: We Power Sweep your chimney flue with the latest Technology from the inside or the bottom. In 90% of situations it is no longer necessary to go on slippery steep dangerous roofs.
- Building Depressurization Inspection for Draft Issues to determine how your building competes for draft Starts at $140 Book Now
- Draft Inducers for Wood Stoves and Fireplace Inserts for poor drawing basement and outside “cold” chimney installations Contact for quote
- Key Dampers for Installations with too much draft Contact for quote
- Stove Door Gaskets Contact for quote
- Combustion Air Intake Vents Contact for quote
- Chimney Sealing to prevent expensive Heat Loss and water or critter entry Contact for quote
- How to properly light a woodstove or fireplace insert
- How to light your open Wood Burning fireplace
Repairs and Upgrades
- Masonry Chimney & Fireplace Updates – Repointing, Rebuilding, Repairs or Removals Contact for quote
- Chimney top Crown Flashings with Drip Edge – Prevents leaks and erosion – adds years to chimney life
- Wood Stove and Wood Burning Insert Repairs. Cleaning and Installations – Specialized tools to protect chimney liner from damages during cleaning. Click to book service call.
- Wood Stove Heat Shields can reduce Clearances
New Equipment Installations
- EPA Certified Fireplace Inserts Supplied and Installed Starting at $2995.00
- EPA Certified Wood Burning Stove Replacements Supplied and Installed Starting at $1995.00
- Hi Temperature Steel Chimney Installations, Repairs and Replacements Contact for quote
- Chimney Liners
- Raincaps Contact for quote
- Fireplace Top Dampers
Wood Burning Accessories
- Stovepipe or Stove top Thermometers
- Double Wall Stovepipe Thermometers
- Remote Flue Gas Thermometers with Over Fire Alarms
- Firewood Moisture Meters
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