How to Buy Wood

Before ordering wood lets discuss the proper units of measurement so you know how to order and know what to expect when it shows up at your home.

1.  What’s a cord?  This is a unit of measure 8′ long by 4′ high 4′ deep, or 128 cubic feet.  The way wood is stacked largely determines how much wood you actually receive.  So, don’t let anybody short-change you.  There’s an old saying, “If you’re selling, stack it so a cat can run through.  If you’re buying, stack it so it can’t.”  Make sure you get your money’s worth and get a real cord of wood.

2.  Face Cord/Run/Rick – This is a unit 8′ long by 4′ high and any depth.  It’s important to specify “full cord” if that is what you intend to buy.  If you don’t, you may end up with less.

3.  Truckload – This is obviously pretty vague.  The average cord of seasoned hardwood weighs about two tons.  If it is delivered in a half-ton pickup, you’re not getting a full cord.

4.  By the Pound – A pound of wood, regardless of its type, is a pound of wood.  The only difference in types of wood is its density.  An oak log weigns more than the same size pine log.  This means there is more fuel packed into the oak log and is worth more.  When buying by any other unit of measurement, you may pay more per pound for softwoods.  If hardwood is available in your area, it’s a good idea to specify hardwood when ordering.

When ordering, ask questions and be specific.  Is it hardwood or softwood? 100% hardwood?  What type of wood?  How much per cord?  Is that a full cord?  Is it seasoned?  How long?  What lengths is it cut?  Is it split?

Specify full cord if that’s what you want.  If you have a choice of hardwood or softwood, specify hardwood because you will get more heat for your money.  If you don’t have a choice, go somewhere else.  Unless the price difference between the two is greater than 25%, pay the extra for the hardwood.

Specify dry seasoned wood.  The moisture content of green wood is typically 50% or more.  Seasoned wood has a 20% to 25% moisture content.  Green wood requires from six months to two years to season.  If the wood is green, you should pay lots less for it.  Also, tell them that you want it stacked, but be aware many will charge you extra to do so.

It’s important for you to be there when the wood arrives and be firm about getting what you pay for.  Check the wood as it’s unloaded.  Then measure it to make sure that what’s delivered is what you’ve paid for.  Check for dryness by looking for check marks.  These are cracks that radiate outward from where the center of the whole log would be.  The larger the check marks the better.  Green wood may appear dry, but without pronounced check marks, you can be assured it’s not.

Another method of testing is to hit two pieces together.  Dry wood will give a sharp ringing sound.  Green wood will give a dull thud.

If ordered hardwood, don’t accept pine, cedar, or other softwoods.  Follow this advice and you’ll get the right wood, and the right amount of wood you purchased.

Wood Stove Annual Maintenance

Now that its warming up,  it’s time to have your wood stove and chimney thoroughly inspected.  Most stoves have several things in common that must be taken care of.  Here are some things AES Hearthplace checks for:

1.  Clean the stove thoroughly.  It’s a messy job, but we have the tools to handle it.

2.  Worn GasketingAES can replace worn-out gasketing.  Gaskets make the door airtight, enhancing the performance of your wood stove  If you stove has a worn-out gasket or one that has come loose, the stove can get more combustion air than it was designed to handle.  Your stove won’t burn as clean and you’ll use more fuel.

3.  Does the door shut securely?  It may need adjustment.

4.   Draft ControlsAES can make sure the draft controls are operating properly.  Creosote will clog the controls making them difficult to move or to get a good seal.

5.  The Damper.  AES will make sure it’s functioning properly.

6.  Cracks.  If you have a cast-iron stove, check for cracks in and between the castings.  If you find some, we can probably repair them.

7.  Thin spots.  If you have a steel stove, you can check for thin spots by pressing firmly with the palm of your hand on any area that appears burned.  If it’s thinning it will flex.  If you discover a thin spot, its time to buy a new stove.

8.  Rust.  If you find rust, its possible to clean the rust off and repaint the stove, but you may as well look for a new stove.

9.  Catalytic UnitAES can remove and clean the catalytic unit.  This should be done every year to prevent it from plugging allow it to function efficiently.

10.  Cleaning the Glass Doors.  New stoves have an “air wash system” that keeps the glass doors cleaner longer.  For older stoves, or when you need to clean your glass doors, there are many great glass door cleaners on the market that will get rid of smoke stains and creosote from the glass. Just make sure the glass is cool before you clean or it may break.

11.  Important for Wood stove Inserts – AES will check the insulation on the surrounds, these are the plates that seal the area between the outside of the insert and the face of the fireplace.  If this insulation is worn, AES will replace it.

How to Purchase a Wood stove That’s Right for You

Wood prices are stable and are unaffected by oil market swings and national economic trends.  It’s an abundant renewable resource which can be obtained locally.  Burning wood reduces our dependence on foreign oil and protects you from wild swings in the energy market.  If energy independence interests you, than you should be serious about heating with wood.

When shopping for a stove take these questions into consideration:

1.  Figure the square footage of the area you want to heat and talk with us about a stove that will heat that area.

2.  Note the space configuration of the area to be heated.  Is it fairly open?  Or are there several walls and doorways?  If the area isn’t relatively open, you may need to purchase some fans to help circulate the heated air.  If your home has a central ventilation system, just turn the fan on, and the heat from your wood stove will circulate nicely.

3.  If there is an existing chimney, we have certified chimney inspectors that can determine if its the proper size for the stove you are considering.

4.  If there’s no existing chimney, our certified chimney installers can show you how to install a pre-fab chimney without damaging or adversely affecting the character of your home.

5.  Will the heat output be satisfactory for you?  You don’t want to overpower the room.  So talk with AES, invite us to your house to make sure the stove you like will provide the comfortable heat output you desire.

6.  Will the firebox accommodate the size of logs you will use?

7.  Match the style of the wood stove with the decor of your room.  Today’s wood stoves offer many options and finishes to suit your needs.

You’ll be satisfied with your choice of wood stoves if you give these points careful consideration.