How to keep your humble abode cosy this season

Everybody loves a good fire.

Everybody loves a good fire.

With the sudden drop in temperature this week signalling winter is officially upon us, many residents in the Great Lakes will be looking to fill their fireplaces and warm their humble abodes.

But not everyone has the time, equipment or knowledge to source their own firewood, and for some, the whole process of buying wood and getting the fireplace blazing can be a confusing and challenging ordeal.

In the interest of keeping everyone warm this winter, we've put together the following guide.

Which wood is good?

Mid North Coast firewood supplier, Sam Atkins of Camden Haven Hardwood, said he most commonly sourced a mix of blackbutt, bloodwood and red gum from the region, with some ironbark mixed in.

He believed it was ideal to have a combination of fast-burning and slow-burning timber in order to get your fire going well and to regulate the temperature.

"Blackbutt isn't the hottest-burning wood, but it's quite easy to light, so it's good to mix with slower-burning timber like bloodwood and red gum," he said.

He also advised it was important to consider the size of your home, with smaller places not needing as much slow-burning timber because the space warms up quicker and retains heat more readily.

Each species has its own characteristics of burning rate, flame, coal and ash generation, which mainly relate to wood density and the chemical composition of tannins.

Firewood Association of Australia

What to consider when buying?

A quick online search reveals most firewood sellers in the area sell for between $70 - $120 a load, but how this load is measured can vary and also lead to people getting ripped off.

Firewood Association of Australia general manager, Dane McGreevy, advised that buyers needed to be careful here as there were some dodgy operators out there.

"If people don't want to get ripped off, ask how they're measuring it. A lot of sellers will say they're selling a cubic metre and it's nowhere near it," he said.

"Make sure you know the quantity you're actually buying."

The National Measurement Institute provides a guide to how firewood should be measured and sold.

Another thing to consider is how dry, or seasoned, the timber is.

"The drier the wood is, the better it will burn," the Forestry Corporation of NSW advises.

"Wood with a high moisture content is more difficult to ignite and may produce more smoke and heavy deposits in chimneys and flues."

Mr Atkins said on the Mid North Coast, timber with a high moisture content generally needed to be split and left to dry out for a year before it was good to burn.

Know what you're getting before you buy it.

Know what you're getting before you buy it.

A final point of consideration is to be careful who you're buying from.

Mr McGreevy said while there were a lot of itinerant and online sellers offering firewood at a cheap price, there was no recourse available to people if these sellers ripped them off.

He said it was safer to buy from a firewood yard or a seller registered with the FAA, where they were held to a code of practice.

And if neither of these options are available, at least request a photo of the size of the load you're getting.

Make sure your heater is in working order

The Australian Home Heating Association advises wood heaters should be serviced yearly.

The condition of the flue, door seals and baffles should all be checked.

Creosote and resin - substances that form as a result of solid fuel combustion - can cause flue fires if they're left to build up.

The AHHA also advises to regularly look outside and check your flue for smoke.

"If it is smoking excessively, you are wasting fuel and heat and may be causing unnecessary emissions," their website says.

"You need to increase the air supply to the fire. A little air avoids a lot of smoke."

And finally, if you're renting a property, it's worth checking when the fireplace was last serviced or cleaned, as it's your safety that could be at risk.

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