How much firewood is needed? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I'm unsure about how much firewood to get. I have a regular brick fireplace in my home. If I want to keep a fire going continuously, how many ricks/cords would I need per month? Thanks for your help.

-- G.S. (, October 09, 1999


On another thread, someone mentioned the idea of visiting local lumberyards to pick up "scrap" wood.

Also, keep in mind that you might need to prepare for NEXT winter, as well as this one. Like toilet paper, you can't have too much wood if you're seriously considering heating your house with a wood stove or fireplace. If you do some calculations and figure that you'll need, say, 3 cords to get you through this winter, why not buy four or five cords (assuming you can afford it) in order to eliminate whatever concern you might otherwise have for the winter of 2000?

Like all other forms of Y2K stockpiling, this can be considered as a form of "insurance," or simply as an investment. Is firewood going to be any cheaper a year from now?


-- Ed Yourdon (, October 11, 1999.

How much did you use last year, Einstein?

-- space (, October 09, 1999.

A fireplace isn't that efficient unfortunately. You'd be better off with an insert. They are expensive though, so understand if you have to stick with the fireplace. Anyway, you didn't mention how cold it gets where you are. Here we have mild winters, and when we used only a fireplace we went through 9 cords a year.

With the insert in our fireplace we use 5 or 6 cords. It's the only heat we have, and I like it warm! Otherwise we could get by with less.

Paul B.

-- Paul Bunyan (, October 09, 1999.

how much wood wood a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck cood chuck wood... sorry I'll shtop drinkin now...LOL

-- Billy-Boy (, October 09, 1999.

G.S., depends heavily on where you live. How long, how bad.. is your average winter. In NJ during a long cold winter we've gone through three cords, just burning it mornings and evenings. Last year it was a mild winter and we didn't even use a half. We've got three cords for the winter this year...but I'd like to have more.

-- kritter (, October 09, 1999.

With a continuous 24 hour fire in an open grate, you could use a cord in a week or two. Use this to figure your needs and then add half again as much, to account for theft, and the times when, dammit, you want the house to be really warm for a few hours instead of just "not freezing." Don't forget matches, kindling, newspaper and cardboard...


-- Liberty (, October 09, 1999.

O.K. O.K. If you are going to burn wood for heat, you should have 1.1 acres timber per 1000 square feet heated area. I use a Stihl 16" bar, you can purchase cheaper saws. Always use deadwood first, and cut your green oak for next year. Down two mediums for the future dry wood, or in case it's a bad winter and you need it this year. I have five acres timber, which will more than replenish itself faster than I could possibly use it. My advice, 3 - 4 acres!!!!!

-- space (, October 09, 1999.

You might try the preps forum for more info. There's a related thread here:

-- Old Git (, October 09, 1999.

Skip the firewood, I just use old car oil and gasoline. Throw in a small tire once in a while, it'll keep ya warm.

-- Porky (Porky@in.cellblockD), October 09, 1999.

Cut it out, you guys, have some pity on us pampered urbanites. GS asked a question others need an answer to as well. We've lived in this house for six years and never used the den fireplace (the living room fireplace is gas logs). I was guessing at two cords for central NC, figuring I could go and get the old stuff felled by Fran in the wooded area across the street if it becomes necessary.

-- Old Git (, October 09, 1999.

The trick is to use the proper damper (setting) for the type of wood and size of fire. You may experience a room full the first few trials, so you may want to keep the windows open and a fan ready during the learning curve.

You will waste most of the usable BTU's up the chimney anyway, if you're using an open fireplace. As mentioned above, try to factor in an insert into you're budget. It will pay for itself long before Y2K is over. If you can't afford one, or you wait until they're unavailable in your area, an insert can be built with used bricks, concrete blocks, or clay pots. An additional benefit of using and insert is the ability to use a fan to distribute the heat. This can also be homemade with some pipe nipples, threaded elbows, and a bellows style fan. I like the idea I just visualized while writing this. Picture this....

You and you loved ones are sitting in the great room, sharing thoughts, moments past, or things to come. As the elder of your tribe, you are rocking comfortably in your chair. All are cozy and warm by the fireside, it being gently stoked by the motion of your rocking. Each cycle of your sway, again forces the bellows to breathe life into the glowing embers of your fire.

Guess that's why they call me McGiver or Mr. Gadget at work. {*^}`X~~

Respectfully, Michael

-- Michael (, October 09, 1999.

In the frozen north, that's north of NYC, we usually figure the pile of wood should be about the size of the house (HONEST!! Or at LEAST the size of the volume actively heated!). Becausae a fireplace is SO inefficient, that may be a GOOD estimating tool, if you intend to resort to ONLY the fireplace.


-- Chuck, a night driver (, October 09, 1999.

Okay,okay, seriously, I plan on using a combo of pressed wood logs and split firewood. I have 2 pallets of the pressed logs stashed inside the garage, very clean and neat and small, but lots of btu's. those mothers burn HOT. I'll use the split wood for starting a good blaze then throw on a pressed log when needed. don't forget those rolled newspaper logs either. You can clean the extra creosote out next summer if any excess gathers.

-- Porky (Porky@in.cellblockD), October 09, 1999.

No shit, guys.... I keep no less than 3 acres on hand! I used to have 120!!!! Maybe ya'll should consider getting out of Urbania! Around here, if the supply line goes, there's cows, chickens, horses, pigs, and LABOR available. IF you have some money....(gold and silver)....

-- space (, October 09, 1999.

Just suppose some of us have tried to sell our city homes and been unsuccessful. Just suppose some of us are too decrepit to fell, saw and split good-sized trees. And if you don't start helping GS (and me), I'm going to sing The Lumberjack Song. . .

So I take it I need to think in the area of 5-6 cords for central NC? GS, if you tell us what sort of climate you're in, maybe someone will give you a fair estimate of what you need.

-- Decrepit Old Git (, October 10, 1999.

Thanks Old Git for the support. In response to where we live, its in Oklahoma. The weather here can be highly variable. Sub zero to 80's in the period of a couple of weeks. But it looks like this winter is going to be one of the cold ones. Spring does come early so January and February are the two months where the fireplace will be a must if the power goes out. Our fireplace does an excellent job of heating the family room but we've only experienced a two day power outage due to an ice storm several years ago and I honestly don't remember how much wood we went through during that time. I just wanted to get an idea from others as to how much wood they would use if the fireplace was in constant usage. That way I could calculate how much we would need given the variable weather. Kritter and Liberty - your numbers help. Thanks again for the response. I've been a lurker for several months now, and have found answers to most of my questions, but this was one question I haven't seen answered other than in generalities.

-- G.S. (, October 10, 1999.

We have mild to moderate winters here in NC. I generally start running the woodstoves when the temperature hits the lower 40's, I run one stove, and two when it gets down to freezing. It is difficult for me to measure in cords, so I use pickup truck loads, I hear they are about half a cord each. Roughly speaking that is a pile of wood 4x4x8 feet. This will last about 2 days depending on the cold, running both stoves, 24 hours. I cut and split as I go, we have plenty of firewood laying around, so it costs me around 5 hours of hard work per week, spread out in increments. I recommend doing it this way because when you do a lot of firewood work at once, fatigue is likely to get you in trouble with a chainsaw, so better to work some every day than to risk injury. I stay a couple of days ahead of my supply in case of bad weather.

-- Forrest Covington (, October 10, 1999.

If TSHTF I don't think it wise to advertize your comfort via smoke signals. There's going to be a lot of cold, hungry Pollies out there...

-- Y2KGardener (, October 10, 1999.

Hey GS....I am in Ok also and trying to figure out the same thing only for a wood stove. Drop me a line e-mail and maybe we can exchange some ideas. I am in Henryetta and would love to chat about y2k. Best of luck.


-- Mary (, October 10, 1999.

There are many variables here that are crucial. From optimal to worst, taken together these can change your wood consumption an order of magnitude!

1) How efficient is your stove? An ordinary fireplace makes the house colder except for a small area. A free-standing, high-efficiency (70+%) stove is the best bet. These are expensive ($2000-5000 depending on total installation requirements). They also reburn the smoke and very little heat escapes up the chimney.

2) The standing-wave convection pattern in your house is very important. Hot air travels along the ceiling. Doorways can effectively block more heat than you'd believe. Unless your layout is ideal, heating all the rooms comfortably may not be possible. In the worst layouts, you will have one sauna inside a cold house.

3) The difference between indoor and outdoor temperature is critical. With a given stove and layout, keeping a temperature difference of 60 degrees will use double the wood of a 40 degree difference.

My experience: I live in northern Alabama. The outside temperature for the coldest 4 months averages in the mid-30s day and night. I have an optimal layout and an extra large free-standing stove with 73% efficiency. I average about 4 cords per winter, keeping about a 40 degree difference between inside and outside. As I said, your mileage will definitely vary tremendously depending on many factors.

-- Flint (, October 10, 1999.

We can't afford a stove or fireplace insert and chimney modifications required by local ordinances. However, we DO have glass doors on the den fireplace and it's surounded by a large amount of brickwork. I understand that if we keep the doors closed, it will heat more efficiently, especially when all the bricks get warm.

Until relatively recently, most houses in England were heated by coal fires. It's no fun, which is why I've never used the fireplace of any house we've lived in here--it doesn't bring back warm memories, it brings back bloody freezing ones! And this post also reminds me that chilblains were common because of the sharp contrast between cold and heat--for the painful, gory details see:

I also remember that the most unpleasant part of fireplace-heating is a cold, damp bed. Aaaargh! And that's why one of the first things I did was decide on solar panels to run the waterbed heaters!

Thank God for polar fleece.

-- Old Git (, October 10, 1999.

Watch the classified for both wood and stoves. I picked up a large Buck insert about 3 months ago for $60 (took about 3 months of looking). You might see if you can post a note in a local 'gas logs' store. Many people who go to logs have either wood ot possibly a stove that they will no longer need. Many who 'convert' would just love someone to come over and clean up that old pile of wood laying out back...... We're in central NC and have 7-8 cords (all free from the local power company's trim back efforts earlier this year).

-- BH (, October 10, 1999.

The point made about smoke is a very relevant one. If you live in area which does not customarily use fires etc, then a plume of smoke is a beacon to the cold and will speak volumes about your preparedness. You might be as well to use something else, ie bottle gas heater, for a few days until the dust settles. To answer your question, we used about 1/2 ton (I don't know what a cord is?) every ten days to two weeks, for cooking and a seperate heater in the sitting room. You will need to have seasoned the wood though, or it will smoulder and go out. We practiced last year and I am glad we did!!

-- liz (, October 10, 1999.

Regardless of the amount of wood, have several blankets for each person. Wear housecoats & longjohns. A house doesn't have to be kept 68-80 degrees, just warm enough to make sure the plumbing doesn't freeze.

-- Mitchell Barnes (, October 10, 1999.

G.S We live near Dallas...last winter we didn't run the heat much (on purpose, trial run for this winter) and we used half a cord in a regular fireplace and were comfy.

Take note of someone's else's note about smoke and the smell of a nice fire. We don't plan on using the fireplace at ALL if there is general societal breakdown going on. Might as well put a sign in the frontyard that says "HEY HEAT AND FOOD HERE!!!!!"

So we have tons and tons and tons and tons of blankets. Seriously. Long johns, thermals, flannel pjs with the feet in 'em for the 5 year old.

Just dug our outdoor latrine yesterday in a little hidden corner of the backyard.

Got lime?

-- Preparing (, October 10, 1999.

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who posted. The information has been a great help.

-- G.S. (, October 11, 1999.

FLINT mentioned heat convection. Please bear with me, as my husband isn't here for providing the details. I do remember a winter long ago where we decided to heat our home entirely with the Scandia Franklin woodstove we installed in our full basement. We live in a typical ranch style house and the stove sits in one end of the basement vs. being located in the middle. In order to (if I understood it correctly) get the convection of hot and cold air going, he cut the basement door in half and rehung both top and bottom halves. We had little ones at the time and leaving the door open was an improssibility. This enabled us to leave the top half of the door open.

He then drilled a grid type pattern of 2/16" or so about the size of a brick in the floors of the bedrooms that are located in the opposite side of the house. This allowed the warm air to flow up the steps and the cool air to return via the floor holes in the bedrooms. It must have worked like a champ because I don't remember us having to use anymore than a couple cords of hardwood that winter.

I hope that all made sense...grin


-- beej (, October 11, 1999.

While Flint has at least one point worth consideration, you may be prudent to be cognizant of the inherent danger associated with an extensive convection heating system. It's true that circulating the heat through ceiling and back to sub floor through non adjacent walls or rooms, greatly enhances the effective BTU's absorbed and held within the structure. But, the hazards of fire traveling unobstructed throughout the entire structure have always usurped the advantages gained. This is why the walls of all new construction units have fire blocking installed within the framework. These blocks temporarily trap the fire within a cell until it breaks through to the next cell, thereby giving the safety measures available a chance to come to fruition. Defeating this system of cells, and/or the fire walls built into the attic or sub floor systems greatly reduces the chance of surviving even the smallest of structure fires, as the chases created by open convection become conduits for the spread of the fire. If you opt for this type of heating system, you would be wise to be 'overly' conscience of the potential dangers associated with it.

Respectfully; Michael

-- Michael (, October 12, 1999.

Michael --

Thanks so much for your posting. I'll pass the info. onto my husband.


-- beej (, October 13, 1999.

Michael raises a point I neglected to mention. Thanks, Michael. I should point out that while I use an extensive whole-house convection system, I also have both a fire extinguisher and a means of exiting the house in every room as well.

And while these may save our lives, they won't do much to slow down or contain the fire. There are always tradeoffs.

-- Flint (, October 13, 1999.

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