Store Your Fuel – What to do, what not to do and why
How to store your fuel…
Fuel storage. To all those who ask how to store your fuel, the basic answer is, keep your fuel dry and well ventilated.
Why is burning damp wood bad?
Fuel storage is vital. The last thing you want is to pay good money, or work hard to build up a nice wood store, and then not know how to store your fuel. It is very important to keep your fuel dry.
Damp fuel and wet wood represent a waste of money, a waste of energy and a threat to your chimney, so make sure you keep your fuel dry.
The cost of burning damp wood
First and foremost, when you are burning damp wood, you have to boil off all the water in that log, and that is energy intensive work. Here’s how you can get a taste of just how much energy is wasted in burning damp fuel. Take a log that you know to be damp, brush all the loose debris off it and weigh it. Make a note of the weight, and then put it near the fireplace to dry. Do PLEASE remember, don’t put it where it will be so overheated that it might catch fire.
Weigh it each week, until it stops losing weight. Subtract that weight from the original and you have the weight of water. Put that into a saucepan, put the heat on full, and see just how long it takes for the water to boil away. Not boil, but boil away. Multiply that estimate by the number of logs you burn per day, and you will begin to grasp why we say it is so important not to burn damp fuel or wet wood.
The damage from burning damp wood
If that is not enough, then consider the potential damage from burning damp wood. As the water goes up the chimney, there is the risk of condensation, and the more water that is entrained in the smoke, the greater the risk. Modern chimneys are not so bad, but the pre 1965 chimneys suffer badly, and because the condensation is so acidic, it does real damage to the lining.
So, how can you go about keeping your fuel dry?
Buy from a reputable seller
First and foremost, buy from a reputable dealer that sells dry, seasoned wood. Buy it well before the burning season starts, so it is at its driest when the season starts.
Checking your fuel storage
If you have a formal structure for storing your wood, give it the once over. Is the floor sealed? A surprising amount of moisture can come up through a damp floor. There is an easy solution. Just get a few pallets, and cover the floor with those. You can cut them up to fit if needs be. Left overs make great kindling, and if any get broken in the future, just replace them, and use the broken bits as kindling.
Make sure that the wind can’t blow water in and the roof is sound, but also ensure that there is excellent ventilation.
Building your fuel storage
So, what if you haven’t got the luxury of a 5 star wood store? It’s time to innovate. Just be careful. Piling up against a wall is good. You can use heavy gauge plastic sheet to rainproof it. Just be aware that if rain blows against the wall above the wood, it will run down the wall and undo your good work. If you can, the easy solution is to throw the plastic over the top of the wall. To stop it blowing off weight it down. The simplest way is with two battens. Place the first one on the edge of the plastic, then roll it in the sheet until it is completely enclosed, then nail the second batten to it. It is very unlikely to tear free. If you can’t go over the wall, then pin the sheet under the line of pallets and take the sheet up the wall as you build the stack, and then bring it over the top and down to the ground, where you can weight it down with two more battens.
Remember when you are getting your chimney swept, make sure you get a certified chimney sweep, and discuss your fuel storage with him.
- Make sure you know how to store your fuel.
- Make sure your fuel is well seasoned.
- Keep your fuel dry and well ventilated.
- Get a certified chimney sweep to advise you.