Company Blog

How to Burn the Best Fires

As we head into the coldest time of the year here in the Hudson Valley, it is important to know how to get the most your fireplace to keep your family as cozy and warm as possible this winter. For over 25 years, All Seasons Chimney has provided the region with superior professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation services, and one of our top priorities is teaching our customers how to operate their fireplaces as safely and efficiently as possible. Our team of professionals is certified by industry leaders, such as the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fireplace Institute (NFI), and during our training and certification courses, we have learned the best practices for just about every aspect of chimney and fireplace systems. This includes how to increase the heating efficiency in your home by burning longer, cleaner, and hotter fires. We would like to take this opportunity to share with you some wood burning tips that will help you maximize your fireplace this winter.

wood fire in fireplaceOnly burn seasoned firewood.

When wood is freshly cut, it can have a moisture content as high as 45 percent. Wet, or green, wood can be difficult to ignite, and when you do finally get a fire going with it, the fire must use up most of its energy-burning off the water before it can produce any heat. This results in an overproduction of smoke, corrosive vapors, and creosote, and this creates deadly hazards, such as chimney fires and carbon monoxide leaks. To avoid these risks, All Seasons Chimney recommends that you only burn seasoned firewood in your fireplace. This type of firewood has been allowed to dry for at least six months after being cut. If you do not cut your own firewood, you can find seasoned firewood at reputable dealers. According to the CSIA, properly seasoned firewood is lightweight, grayish in color, and be cracked and split on the ends. If you knock two pieces of wood together, you should hear a hollow sound if the wood has been seasoned. Green wood would make a dull thudding sound. You can also use a digital moisture meter to make sure that the firewood is only 20 to 25 percent water. Once you have purchased your firewood supply, it is important to store it off the ground so that it does not reabsorb any moisture. We recommend you place your firewood on pallets, concrete blocks, or gravel if you do not have a storage shed.

Use the upside-down method to build a top-down burn.

If you struggle to get a fire going, it might have to do with the method you used to build it. Many of us learned how to build a fire using the log cabin style, where the kindling is placed at the very bottom, but the leading experts at the CSIA have found that a better method of building a fire is to do the exact opposite and put the kindling at the top. Known as the top-down method, this technique has been used for centuries to build fires in the large masonry heaters across Europe. You will begin by placing your largest pieces of firewood across the bottom of your fireplace or stove and then continue layering about four or five rows of logs on top of that first layer. Make sure that each row is made up of smaller logs than the last row. Once you have the wood stacked to about half of the height of the fireplace, you should start to layer your kindling on top of the stack of logs. Be careful not to stack your kindling higher than the fireplace opening. You will then light the very top of your kindling with a single match, and as it burns, it will keep igniting the wood below. This “light it and you’re done” procedure allows you to relax and enjoy the fire with your family and friends instead of worrying about adjusting logs in the fireplace to keep the flames going.

Have your chimney professionally swept and inspected at least once a year.

When you burn wood, creosote develops naturally during the combustion process and builds up on the interior walls of your chimney over the winter. Although you can greatly reduce the amount of creosote that is produced by only using seasoned firewood when using your fireplace, your chimney needs to be professionally swept every year. The CSIA has named creosote as a leading cause of chimney fires because it is highly flammable. When All Seasons Chimney sweeps your chimney, we take great care to remove every bit of creosote to reduce the risk of chimney fires. You can trust our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps to make sure that your fireplace is safe to use every winter.

Have you had your chimney professionally swept and inspected this year? Contact us today at All Seasons Chimney to schedule your appointment for our professional chimney maintenance services. We are here for all of your professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation needs.

All About Seasoned Firewood

Cooler weather is starting to arrive in the Hudson Valley! That means it is time to make sure that your firewood supply is ready for winter. Did you realize that when you burn the right type of wood, you can increase the energy efficiency of your masonry fireplace? If you try to burn freshly cut wood, your chimney and fireplace will not work as well. This is because burning wet wood can cause problems, including smoke blowing back into your home. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and All Seasons Chimney recommend only burning firewood that has been properly seasoned, or dried. We would like to tell you more about seasoned firewood. In addition, why it is so important for you to burn this type of fuel this fireplace season!

Seasoned Firewood Image - Poughkeepsie NY - All Seasons ChimneyWhat exactly is seasoned firewood?

Wood contains about 40 percent water. Therefore, a fire that is built with freshly cut firewood wastes a lot of its energy burning off that moisture. The majority of the heat produced by this fire escapes out of the chimney. This can lead to you having to turn up the thermostat just to stay comfortable. Seasoned firewood has been allowed to dry for at least six months after being cut. Due to this, it allows this type of wood to provide more heat for less money!

How can I tell if the firewood has been properly seasoned when buying wood?

With dark ends and visible splits and cracks, seasoned firewood is much more lightweight than freshly cut (or green) wood. You can also tell by banging two pieces of wood together. If you hear a clunking sound, it is most likely seasoned. When you bang pieces of green wood together, you will hear a dull thudding sound. Do you really want to be sure the wood is seasoned? If so, you can buy a moisture meter for about $20 at your local hardware store. You will want to only buy wood with a moisture content of 20 to 25 percent.

How should I store seasoned firewood?

It is crucial that you store your seasoned firewood off the ground to keep it from absorbing moisture. Don’t have a storage shed? No worries! You can stack the wood on top of pallets, concrete blocks, or gravel. Cover the top of your wood stacks with a tarp, and make sure the sides are open to allow air to circulate freely. This helps to keep your seasoned firewood dry.

If you want warmer fires that last longer, you should only burn seasoned firewood. Contact us at All Seasons Chimney to find out more tips on how to increase the energy efficiency of your chimney and fireplace!