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North Coast Masonry Blog

Types of Firewood

Types of Firewood
Green vs. Seasoned
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 vs. Softwoods
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.

 

Chimney Leak?


Chimney Leak?
     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.
 
Thank You,
North Coast Masonry

216-326-8174

Reducing Creosote Buildup,


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.
 
Thank You,
North Coast Masonry

216-326-8174

Why Install a Energy Saving Damper?


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.
 
Thank You,
North Coast Masonry

216-326-8174

Why Install a Chimney Cap?


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.
 
Thank You,
North Coast Masonry

216-326-8174