Store Firewood away from the House
Firewood attracts pests
While firewood may be an important staple for your backyard fire pit. It’s also a magnet for pests that will happily make the jump into the house. So store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house.
If you have a wood-burning fire pit or fireplace, you are going to need firewood. This, of course, means that you are going to need firewood storage. This may seem like a simple thing, but how and where you stack your firewood is more important than you might think.
An improperly stacked or poorly placed wood pile could lead to critter infestations, mold, fungus, snake bites, and wood that just does not burn as well. While it might not be possible to completely guarantee that your stack will be mouse, snake and mold free, there are simple steps you can take to keep your pile as clean, safe and dry as possible.
So, before you start stacking wood, check out these seven firewood storage tips that will help you properly care for your wood pile.
1. Always properly stack your firewood.
Tossing your firewood haphazardly in a bin or pile will not allow for proper air circulation, which is required for your wood to dry into good firewood. In particular, the wood in the middle of the pile is likely to retain moisture, which can lead to premature decay, mold or fungus.
A pile of wood that is not properly stacked is also more prone to infestations by insects or rodents.
Regardless of what you are using for firewood storage and the pattern you choose for your stack, your wood should be stacked with the cut ends exposed. These cut ends are where most of the moisture is released, so keeping these ends exposed is an essential part of allowing your wood to dry. Since most people stack their firewood in a single row, this will mean placing each piece so that the cut ends are facing the front and back of your stack. This may vary if you use different stacking methods, such as some that involve placing each layer in a different direction to optimize airflow.
When placing each layer of wood, avoid straight, vertical rows. Think of stacking your wood like you would stack bricks. For example, a straight column of bricks is sure to topple. By overlapping each row, you add stability to your stack.
Wood should be stacked loosely – rather than packed tightly to save space – to allow air to circulate between each piece.
If you are working with split firewood (bark on just one side), then you should also pay attention to the direction in which you stack each piece. For example, if you are stacking your wood on the ground and you are concerned about excessive moisture in the soil, stack your wood with the bark side facing the ground. You should also stack your wood with the bark side facing the ground if your wood is still a bit green and needs to continue drying. If your stack is not covered, you can help protect your dry wood from rain and snow by stacking it with the bark facing up, which will more readily allow the rain and snow to roll off of the wood to avoid absorption.
The simplest, most convenient firewood storage is a firewood rack. You can purchase racks in different sizes and styles, and these handy structures keep your firewood organized and off the ground, while making stacking easy. Alternatively, you can make your own rack by providing a foundation and hammering stakes into the ground to stabilize the sides of your pile. If you are stacking under a covered patio or under the eaves of a shed, you may already have posts, columns or a fence that can support the sides of your wood stack.
2. Stack your firewood above the ground.
If at all possible, your firewood storage should be at least a few inches off of the ground. There are several issues with stacking firewood directly on the ground. One of the issues is that this does not allow for proper airflow, which will keep green wood from drying and can introduce moisture to your stack. This increased moisture, plus the additional insects that will find their way to your stack, will make your firewood decay faster. The moisture can also lead to mold or fungus, and contact with the ground can increase bacteria in your wood, which is another factor in speeding up the decaying process.
If you use a firewood rack, it is likely off the ground by at least a few inches and will allow for better airflow and enough distance from the ground to reduce the chance of mold, fungus or increased insect infestations. If you do not have a firewood rack, you can raise your stack off of the ground by creating a foundation from pallets, 2x4s, scrap wood, some of your logs, cinder blocks or bricks.
If raising your firewood storage off of the ground is not an option, there are other ways to help keep the bottom of your stack drier. For example, you can place gravel on the ground under the area where you plan to stack your wood to enhance drainage. Alternatively, you can place your stack on concrete or on a brick or paving stone patio. These surfaces will not hold moisture like soil will, which can help keep your wood drier. Do keep in mind that stacking your wood directly on concrete, paving stones or bricks could cause some staining or discoloration under your stack.
3. Keep your wood dry.
Dry firewood is safer and burns better. This is why you should let your firewood age before using it in a fire pit or fireplace. Green wood is freshly cut wood that has not yet properly dried. In most cases, it takes cut wood about six months to become fully seasoned and ready to burn. Burning green wood results in more smoke and a less efficient fire. If you are burning it in a fireplace, it also leads to increased creosote buildup, which can be dangerous. If you are burning it indoors, it can increase the level of carbon monoxide in your home.
Green wood is wet because the moisture has not yet left the cells of the wood. Firewood storage for green wood must allow it to breathe and continue to dry so that it can become seasoned wood for use in your fire pit or fireplace. Covering green wood is one of the most common mistakes people make when storing firewood. You should not cover green wood with a tarp or other material unless it is going to rain. If you cover your green wood while it is raining, be sure to remove the cover after the rain stops.
When moisture is introduced to seasoned wood, it can also become wet. Because of this, you may want to cover your dry wood when it is going to rain or snow (unless you keep it in a shed or under a shelter). You can cover completely seasoned wood when it is not raining, but this is not necessary and can lead to moisture being trapped or an even more-inviting habitat for critters.
When you cover green wood or seasoned wood with a tarp or other material, do not cover the entire stack from the top to the ground. Your wood needs to breathe, so cover just the top portion of your pile to protect it from the rain, but keep the bottom of the pile uncovered to allow it to breathe. It is okay to completely cover your pile when it is raining, as long as you uncover it as soon as the rain stops.
If you want to cover your firewood storage to partially hide it or to keep your wood cleaner, there are some breathable covers that can be used. Some firewood racks come with a full cover that can be used in this manner or to protect your wood from rain. This is fine to use on dry wood, but you should avoid covering green wood – even with a breathable cover – until it is fully seasoned.
If you have the space and the budget, you can build a shed or shelter to use for firewood storage, which allows you to organize and protect your wood pile in a more visually pleasing manner.