Is burning wet wood so bad?

Is burning wet wood so bad?
The Rim Fire burns through trees near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013. Firefighters gained some ground Tuesday against the huge wildfire burning forest lands in the western Sierra Nevada, including parts of Yosemite National Park. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

As we enter into the cooler months, many homeowners are starting to anticipate unlocking the woodshed and firing up the stove. The wood stove has been certified and serviced, so what other work needs to be done? One of the biggest concerns to keep in mind when opening up the woodshed for the first time in the season is that wet wood can be just as hazardous for your fireplace as shoddy maintenance.

 By industry standards, ‘seasoned’ wood is wood that has been dried (cured) for at least 1 year while being sheltered from rain and snow. Firewood vendors usually use the term ‘seasoned’ to mean wood that was cut a significant period of time ago. This wood isn’t necessarily dry, which could spell trouble when it comes time to burn. Knowing the difference in terminology can save time and money drying out wood in the future.
 
It doesn’t take a specialist to know that water does not burn. Because the water in wood will boil as it burns, wet-wood fire can be difficult to maintain, and put off less heat than dry wood. The steam released by the wood can extinguish other parts of the fire trying to burn. Wet wood also causes much more creosote to form in the chimney, regardless of draft control settings. No matter how well-designed a stove is, the smoke created by these fires will dirty up the viewing window.
 
If the wood supply is already wet, there are solutions. Immediately cover whatever wood you have and get it off of the ground before it soaks up more water from the surrounding environment. Finely splitting the wood can help water evaporate faster. If dark, wet smoke rises out of the chimney, it’s a good sign that you are burning creosote-producing wet wood. 
 
Dry wood is best, and proper care and maintenance of a stove can make it even more effective. Common sense and planning can guarantee a warm, cozy stove for your home.
 
For a free home consultation for your stove, contact Fireside Home Solutions for an appointment.