TRURO - With the winter weather upon us, those who haven't already thought about purchasing their firewood may want to do so.
One of the biggest suggestions Rob Tanner of RT Logging can offer is to get the wood as early as possible.
"That way, you'll get better wood or the first pick of the wood available," said Tanner, who has been in operation in Colchester and Cumberland counties for the past two years.
"If you're a repeat customer, the contractors like to care of their repeats first. People who need firewood should buy their wood early in the year so it can dry before winter. We get a lot of customers who call in October wanting dried firewood, but the dry wood goes to our repeat customers first."
That's also a huge tip that Department of Natural Resources regional forester Don Cameron also suggests.
"Order your wood in the spring," he said, adding green wood is cheaper than seasoned. "Dry it outside under cover for at least six months. When wood isn't burning, it's still too wet and can cause creosote, which causes fire problems."
For dry wood, Cameron said location and manner in which one chooses to store wood should be considered.
"Ideally, one should strive to pile the wood and keep it dry while having it far enough from the home to keep unwanted insects from coming in. Contrary to what many of us do, it is best to minimize the amount of fuel wood stored in the home," he said.
Cameron said large amounts of moisture, and even mould, could affect life in the home if a large amount of wood is brought in, especially in the early fall season before the freeze-up kills many of the bugs.
To keep fuel wood dry, he said, it is advisable to stack the wood in such a way to allow for good airflow while protecting it from precipitation and other moisture.
But before drying wood, it must be purchased or cut down.
"It's about awareness and knowing what you want," said Cameron. "Make the producer aware so they know what you want. Try to go with one that has a good reputation or if you know of someone having a good experience with them."
He also said knowing how much wood a person wants is key - and most is measured by the cord.
"Cord simply refers to the measurement of wood volume; the term usually used in determining the amount of fuel wood cut and sold."
A cord of wood measures eight feet long by four feet wide, by four feet long, for a total volume of 128 cubic feet of wood, including air space between the stacked pieces.
"When you tightly stack firewood, and calculate the volume, you must receive the volume you paid for," he said. "If you ordered by the cord, it must stack up to at least 128 cubic feet for every cord you paid for. If you ordered by the cubic meter, you must receive at least one cubic meter for every cubic meter you paid for. Whether wood is eight-foot length, bucked, or split when delivered is irrelevant."
Having been in the business, Tanner said there are some people who aren't happy with the amount of wood they receive.
"Nowadays, if a producer sends hardwood to the mill to be chipped, it will be weighed by the tonne and then they convert it to cords," said Tanner.
Using six cords as an example, Tanner said it can be taken to the client where it's cut, split and piled.
"They may say that it's five-and-a-half or five-and-a-quarter, but that's not how it's scaled. Because of this, we made it our policy to have the landowner see the wood on our truck and they're happy with it enough to pay for it before we unload it," he added.
Anyone cutting their own wood should make sure they have permission from the landowner, if the land isn't their own property, before cutting.
"They also need to think about proper safety precautions when handling wood because there are many accidents every year," said Cameron.
Tips on purchasing, drying and storing firewood:
– Most suppliers provide mixed hardwood species, however, some will make an effort to provide a particular species if you request in advance. Energy content varies depending upon species. For example, the relatively dense wood fibre of sugar maple and yellow birch produces much more heat per unit than poplar.
– Construct a clearly defined storage/drying area for your firewood that will hold the quantity you order each year. By knowing how much your storage area holds, any shortage will be immediately evident when you stack your wood. (A woodshed is a wise investment)
– Clearly inform your supplier of the quantity of wood you require in cords, cubic feet, or cubic meters only. Tell them that you require a receipt upon delivery stating volume of wood supplied, and that you will be measuring the wood after delivery to confirm you received what you paid for. Get a commitment from them to make good on any shortage discovered.
– If you find you did not receive fair measure, contact your supplier and explain the problem. If you do not receive satisfaction, contact Industry Canada, Measurement Canada, and/or file a complaint with the small claims court in your area.