Proper storage of your cordwood is essential to getting the most heat when you burn it. Wood should be seasoned and dried to a moisture content of 20 percent, compared with its natural moisture content of 30 percent to 40 percent. Have your cordwood delivered—or chop and stack it yourself—in early spring for burning in the fall and winter. During its seasoning period and as you use it throughout the winter, whether or not you cover your stacked wood depends on preference and how much rain and snow your area usually gets.
Leaving Your Woodpile Uncovered
If you live in a relatively dry climate where you get little rain and lots of sun, Woodheat.org recommends leaving your woodpile exposed to the elements. The sun and the wind will season your wood perfectly, provided you have piled it in a single row, perhaps up against a fence. The sun will dry out the wood and the wind will carry away the evaporated water. Even if you get occasional precipitation, the wood should continue to season and only temporarily get wet on the surface.
Covering Your Woodpile
If your area experiences an especially wet spring or fall, and winter brings a lot of snow, you should cover your woodpile with a tarp. The downside to covering your woodpile with a tarp is that it will get blown around by strong winds and you will have to adjust it regularly as you remove wood from the pile for burning. This, however, is the only drawback. Avoid securing the tarp tightly around the wood pile so air and moisture are trapped underneath it; instead, throw a tarp over just the top of the pile and place a heavy piece of wood on either end of the tarp to keep it from coming loose. Adam Moreland Woodlot Services in Saskatchewan, Canada, advises wood burners that more moisture is released through the cut ends of the wood than the split sides, so covering those split sides at the top of the pile and leaving the cut ends exposed to the air will allow plenty of moisture to escape. Lots of wet weather will cause uncovered wood to take longer to dry, which will prevent its being ready for burning in the fall.
Timing also plays a role in determining whether or not to use a tarp. If you get your wood later than early spring, put a tarp over it to ensure it dries out before you need it. If you have plenty of time to season your wood before the cold season, some wet weather isn’t going to make much difference.
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