Green Firewood has moisture content greater than
50%. Any logs that have been cut down within 12 months should be considered
green. A healthy standing tree will have a moisture content between 60% and
100+% (Yes, some trees can be more water than wood!). Thus green wood is any
wood that has a moisture content of more than 50%, therefore making burning
very ineffective because the potential BTU's (heat) of the wood will be lost in
the release of the water through steam. The only true way to decrease the
moisture content of wood is by opening the surface area of the wood to allow
the water to evaporate via heat and air transfer. Firewood will not begin to
fully season until split. You cannot completely season firewood in log or block
form.Signs of green firewood
include: very tight end grain, uniform wood color, heavy wood, intact bark,
mold/fungus, strong smell, sap, bugs or a dull "thud" when pieces are
banged together end to end.
Seasoned Firewood has moisture content less than 40%
that will allow the wood to burn effectively and release the potential BTU's
(heat). Wood that has been properly split and stored will promote the
evaporation of water. In most areas of the country, especially the Northeast,
it will take up to 12 months for split hardwood to be properly seasoned. Wood
with more than 40% moisture content should not be burned for home heating. The
minimum moisture content for optimal BTU's is no more than 20% to 30% moisture
and as low as 10%. Below 10% the wood will burn too quickly. Signs of properly
seasoned firewood include: checks (cracks) in the ends, loss of wood color,
lighter wood, loss of bark, no signs of mold/fungus, lack of smell and a loud
"clang" when banged together end to end (like a baseball bat).
Hardwoods are very dense and they have more
BTU's (= heat) per volume as compared to softwoods. They tend to be more
difficult to start but will burn longer and release a good amount of heat. For
all pratical purposes hardwoods are the best choice for firewood. Some
hardwoods are better to burn than others. On Long Island we mainly burn Oak and
Maple. They are excellent hardwoods for burning (as long as they're seasoned
properly). Other quality burning hardwoods include: Ash, Beech, Birch and
Hickory. There are other quality hardwoods but they are impractical to obtain
in volume for firewood. Although most hardwoods do burn well there are a few
that do not: Elm, Popular & Sycamore are among a few hardwoods that have
poor burning characteristics.
Softwoods are less dense than hardwoods and
tend to burn very quickly. They are good for starting a fire but will release a
low amount of BTU's (= heat) per volume. Due to the high amount of sap in
softwoods they are not recommended as indoor firewood. They may build up
dangerous amount of Creosote in your chimney. If you do burn softwoods as
firewood the following are the best choices: Doug Fir, Yellow Pine and Spruce.
Most softwoods are best used as kindling and Cedar is among the best for that
purpose. Cypress is among the worst softwood for firewood.
Reducing Creosote Buildup,
Restricted air supply, unseasoned wood and cooler than
normal chimney temperatures can accelerate creosote buildup inside your
chimney. To counteract creosote production, it is advisable to burn
well-seasoned, dry wood that burns hotly and produces byproducts that exit the
chimney quickly. Opening the damper fully and leaving fireplace doors open
whenever possible increases air flow and dramatically decreases creosote
buildup. The occasional burning of a chimney- cleaning log dislodges creosote
and sends it harmlessly up and out of the chimney stack.
North Coast Masonry
10 Questions To Ask When You’re
Getting Your Chimney Cleaned
1. What will you do to clean the
Your chimney professional should be able to give you a step
by step description of how he plans to clean your chimney and what he will do
to protect your household during the cleaning process.
2. Is there just soot in the chimney
or is there creosote, too?
Creosote is a highly flammable substance and its presence in
your chimney can ignite causing a chimney fire. The presence of creosote in the
chimney may indicate poor burning practices or a burning appliance that is not
working well. In either case you should know of its presence, how the chimney
professional will remove it, and what can be done to prevent or limit the
presence of creosote in the chimney going forward. Soot on the other hand is a
safe substance as long as it is removed before its accumulation interferes with
draft. It is, in most cases, easily brushed away.
3. Can you inspect/clean other flues
in my house besides the fireplace?
professionals will give price breaks when more than one chimney or flue will be
inspected/cleaned. If you’re having a chimney professional come to clean your
fireplace flue, it’s probably a good idea to have them take a look at your
furnace/water heater flues as well.
4. How long will it take?
Every flue is different, but on average a thorough cleaning
should take about 25 minutes to 35 minutes. This time can increase
substantially if there is creosote present in your flue, if the flue is damaged
in any way, or if there are blockages such as birds’ nests. If your chimney
cleaning requires more time it’s good to ask and understand why.
5. Do you inspect the chimney, too?
We recommend you have your flue inspected with each
cleaning. A thorough inspection can alert you to possible unsafe conditions in
6. How often should I have my chimney
Your chimney professional can make a reasonable estimation
for time between cleanings based on your individual burning practices.
7. How much do you charge?
Be sure to understand what you are getting for your money,
i.e. inspection and cleaning, or just a cleaning.
8. Do you have Insurance?
Your chimney sweep company that you hire should provide you
with a copy of their insurance papers before performing any work on your home.
9. How long have you been in
This is a good way to establish what level of experience
your chimney professional has.
10. Will you have to go on the roof?
Some chimney pros clean from the top down, some clean from
the bottom up. There is no one preferred method. In either case it’s good to
know what their procedure will be.
North Coast Masonry
Why Install a Chimney Cap?
1) Keeps rain water from coming down your chimney. Rain water can damage many components of your chimney. Many times rain water can damage stainless steel liners, dampers and can even saturate mortar joints. Water can soak inside a chimney and produce mold and other non-pleasant results.
2) Keeps animals out of your chimney flue. Many times animals can make a home inside your chimney. These animals include birds, raccoons, and squirrels. Sometimes the animals cannot get out of the chimney and will die. This problem produces maggots, flies, and usually results in a fairly nasty odor. A professionally installed chimney cap is sized for a custom fit to prevent animal intrusion.
3) Prevents wind induced downdrafts. Many times wind will blow in a certain direction and can cause downdrafts. If your fireplace is drafting smoke, wind may be blowing smoke back into your home. The flat portion of the top of a chimney cap is designed to prevent wind induced down drafts.
4) Spark arresting. Many times people refer to a chimney cap as a spark arrestor. This is a fancy term that tells you that your chimney cap can prevent many lit embers that travel up your chimney from landing on your roof. These embers can catch your roof on fire.
5) Keeps out leaves, branches and twigs which can lead to blockage.
North Coast Masonry
Why Install a Energy Saving Damper?
1) Warped, broken, or leaky throat dampers cost homeowners hundreds of dollars a year, and that figure is going nowhere but up. Independent laboratory tests show the Top-Sealing Damper eliminates as much as 90% of the air loss of a traditional damper. You can no longer afford a leaky throat damper with metal-to-metal contact like the one in your fireplace.
2) A Damper mounts easily atop a flue tile with silicone sealant. A 32' Stainless cable drops down the flue and mounts in the firebox. Chances are the energy-saving Damper will pay for itself in energy savings the first year.
3) Add a Damper Cap to your damper for added protection
against animals and spark control.
4) All Dampers come with a Lifetime Warranty.
North Coast Masonry
If you notice rain or water coming down your chimney or even down the wall or ceiling close to your chimney there is a very good chance the leak is from a chimney more than likely it’s not a roofing issue. People spend a lot of frustrating time and money trying to correct a leak by patching the roof when they should be spending their time and money on the chimney or chimney flashing.
North Coast Masonry