SUICIDAL SQUIRREL STOCKPILES
We probably don’t think about firewood storage very often, but our local rodents are always thinking about it! When they aren’t darting in front of your car (ugh!), squirrels and chipmunks are looking at your firewood storage as a place to put THEIR stockpiles. While many people use firewood to economically heat our homes in New England, we shouldn’t invite these critters to move in with open arms. A large percentage of all homes in New Hampshire and Vermont use some sort of solid fuel (firewood or pellets) to provide some degree of heating during our long, cold winter. As home inspectors, we often discover wood storage piles right next to the homes we inspect and this can have serious consequences.
Storing this firewood right next to your home (or inside your basement, barn, or garage) can be problematic. When you are deciding where to put your firewood storage, consider placing it away from your home. Only bring in what you need, as you need it.
FIREWOOD STORAGE OR MOUSE HOUSE?
Rodents love to use firewood storage as free housing (and winter food storage). The spaces between the stacked firewood provide an ideal nesting place. Storage is abundant in these tiny areas and chipmunks and squirrels love to hide their acorns anywhere they can. When they aren’t running out in front of us on the roads, they are hiding their finds and they may be using your firewood storage piles.
It goes to say that if they are using this as a storage and nesting spot, it is probably not a good idea to put your firewood storage piles right next to your house. It invites these critters (mice, squirrels, chipmunks) to move right in with you. Rodents can easily get into your home through the smallest of openings and will cause damage. They love to chew electrical wires, gnaw on building materials, and make holes in your walls. Not to mention the urine and droppings they leave behind.
WOOD DESTROYING INSECTS
Firewood storage piles may contain (or may invite) wood destroying insects such as termites or carpenter ants. If you harvest your own firewood, it is important that it be fully seasoned (or dried) adequately before using. Wood that is wet, in poor condition, or is obviously infested with carpenter ants should not be stored next to a house, nor should it be burned in your woodstove. Firewood storage piles next to the home may also attract wood destroying insects that weren’t present when harvested. Don’t give termites or carpenter ants a “Red Carpet” welcome into your home! Do not ‘season’ freshly cut wood next to your home. Cover it in a pile well away from your house and let it mature until you are ready to burn it.
If you purchase firewood, be sure to get a “kiln-dried” type. This will kill any insects that may be living within it. Keep it covered, dry, and away from the home.
WOOD SIDING ROT
Firewood stored directly next to a house will most likely lead to siding rot and decay. Many homes in our region are covered with wood siding. When wood piles are stored directly next to a home, this will inhibit air flow and the siding nearby is very likely to decay. Air must be allowed to freely flow around a home to promote drying. We live in a generally cold/cool and somewhat wet climate and if the air flow is inhibited, it will lead to siding decay. Decay will lead to structural problems, pest intrusion, and possibly the development of mold.
GREAT FIREWOOD STORAGE IDEAS
Check out some of these great woodpile storage ideas! Just be sure to build or construct these away from the house.
The Moral of the Story: Store Firewood Away From Your Home!
Contact us at (603) 643-INSPECT or (802) 342-INSPECT to schedule a home inspection, radon testing, or well water testing today!
Credit for squirrel image above Kamaalbir Singh, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.