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With new Australian standards introduced recently slow combustion fires burn more efficiently than ever before. This makes the quality of firewood more important.
How long a tree has been felled or dead for does not indicate how dry the wood is.
The best way to dry wood is to split it and expose the inner core allowing the sun to dry the wood naturally.
Good wood merchants will split the wood for you, but may not season it for you.
The amount of you pay for your wood does not justify how dry the wood is. The only way to know how dry your wood is, is to use a moisture meter measuring from the inner core of the wood.
Only burn wood under 20% moisture. Anything over 20% and your wood heater will not work efficiently. The energy from the fire will be used to reduce moisture in your wood and not produce heat for your house.
Store your wood for at least 12 months after your have purchased it. Your wood should be at a perfect moisture level, of around 15 to 20%.
Never burn treated wood or painted wood.
Most heaters burn better with 3 or 4 logs rather than 1 or 2. Logs should not be too big – 2 to 4kg for 40 cm logs is typical.
Heaters without grates will perform better with a layer of ash on the base of the firebox, and should only need cleaning periodically. When cleaning out the ash always leave 10mm or so behind.
Every time you add fuel to your fire, leave air controls open for 15-20 minutes to start wood burning properly, then keep your fire burning at a steady rate.
To obtain complete burning, you need a high temperature and enough air flow so coals and flames glow brightly.
Dark, smouldering wood and a lot of smoke are of signs of poor and incomplete burning as a result of insufficient air intake.
For overnight burning, load the heater at least half an hour before going to bed. Only turn the air supply down to minimum once all the wood is charred (about 15-20 minutes) to avoid creosote problems.
Most heaters should still burn for eight hours without difficulty and you will have far less creosote problems than if you fill the heater and turn it to slow-burn straight away. However, long periods of slow burning will always produce more creosote than burning on medium or high.
It will probably take you some time to get the “feel” of operating your heater for long periods. You might even find that once you have a good lighting method worked out and your house is well insulated, you don’t need to burn overnight except on particularly cold nights.
For the best results, always use the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer. If your heater meets the national emission standard, it will have a compliance plate which specifies the correct fuel to use.
Place your orders early with a reputable fuel merchant who is preferably a member of The Australian Home Heating Association and be sure of what you are buying or collecting in firewood.
Moisture content should be in the range of 12-20%. Hence the need to buy in summer months and stack in an air-dry mode, e.g. Roof cover, open sides
In defined areas, firewood must be sold by weight, so don’t pay for excess weight in water. Elsewhere, firewood is often sold in volume e.g. A cubic meter or in some cases a cubic yard, i.e. cage, bin or loader bucket, etc.
Order your winter wood early. Buy your wood in spring or summer. Wood heaters operate best when wood is completely dry and well-seasoned.
Store your firewood in a covered stack with plenty of air access.
Wood stored on pallets or in a crisscrossed fashion allows air to circulate freely.
Obtain expert advice on solid fuel appliances. Retailers who are members of The Australian Home Heating Association can provide helpful advice.
Make your home more energy efficient by insulation the ceilings and walls.
Prevent heat leaks through cracks in doors and windows.
Reduce heat loss through windows by drawing heavy curtains at night.
Leaving the firebox door open will reduce the efficiency and heat output of your heater.
Allow full air for 15-20 minutes after each refuelling.
If your fire is smoky and there are no flames then it is not burning efficiently. Open the air control so that the fire can burn hot, eliminating smoke and reducing emissions.
Whether you’re looking to install a new wood heater, require maintenance on your current wood heater, or need to talk to an expert, find a local trusted AHHA provider below.
Read all the latest news and information regarding wood heating use and regulations in Australia