How To Store Firewood To Avoid Termites

Firewood with Termites

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It’s important to properly store and cover your firewood in order for it to effectively burn later on. But besides storing it in the right place and covering it with the right material, there’s also specific ways to store your firewood to avoid unwanted pests like termites.

The best way to store your firewood to avoid termites is to keep it off the ground and away from buildings, covered with a durable material, and split into smaller pieces. This will ensure your firewood is away from termites sources and unattractive to most pests.

Termites can ruin your firewood. Worse, they can cause damage to your home if they hitchhike from firewood into your house. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to avoid termites.

Part of preventing issues related to rodents and pests involves properly storing firewood. But there are other ways to get rid of termites, either proactively or after you’ve noticed them.

How To Avoid Termites

There are several different methods you can use to keep termites away from your firewood. These include:

Storing Firewood

The best way to avoid termites is to store your firewood away from walls and off the ground. Not only does this ensure airflow, but it also serves as a serious deterrent for termites.

Termites don’t actually live in wood. Instead, they nest, live, and reproduce in the ground, and simply use your firewood as a food source (or, more accurately, the cellulose in your wood).

Keeping your firewood at least a few inches off the ground and away from walls makes it harder for termites to get to it.

Besides keeping it away from walls and the ground, it’s also wise to keep your firewood piles away from live trees. Termites can move from trees into your firewood just as easily as they can from the ground to your wood.

Covering Firewood

Another way to prevent termites is to cover your firewood. This keeps it dry, making it unattractive to termites since they prefer wet or damp wood.

Firewood Covered by a Tarp
Learn why it is important to cover your firewood.

Using a dark, plastic cover like a tarp prevents termites another way, too: it creates heat. During warmer months, heat will build up under the cover.

Not only will this evaporate moisture and keep your wood dry, but the rising temperatures will also kill any insects inside the wood.

Whether you just cut your firewood or purchased seasoned bundles, it’s best to perform this sort of DIY heat treatment as soon as possible. This way, termites and any other surface pests are dealt with sooner rather than later.

Splitting Firewood

You can also split your firewood into smaller pieces rather than sizable logs. Not only will this help wood dry faster and stay dry longer, but it’s also off-putting for termites. Termites are more prone to target unsplit firewood with bark versus split pieces.

Keep this in mind when initially cutting your firewood or when purchasing pre-cut bundles. Even if it’s more time-consuming or expensive initially, the extra insurance will be worth it later on.

The Best Way To Store Firewood

There are several different ways to store firewood: you can store it inside a building (like a shed) or outside using log racks, pallets, or posts.

The exception to this is your home: never store firewood inside your home. Even in the basement or garage, insects or rodents can find and make a home in your wood.

If you store your firewood outside, keep at least 20 feet away from your home, if possible. This way your home will be protected, even if termites or other critters do take up residence in your wood (which they hopefully won’t, if you follow the instructions in this article).

Wherever you store it, make sure there is adequate ventilation and airflow. Remember that this includes behind and under the wood.

You’ll also need to cover your firewood if it isn’t stored inside a building or outside under an overhang. Make sure you use a cover that’s made of weatherproofed material; it should be able to last through at least six months of rain and snow.

A thin piece of tin or other metal can protect the bottom of your firewood stack, just like the cover protects the top and some of the sides. Using a metal base with short “walls” protects your firewood from the ground, which carries moisture and pests (both of which are bad news for you).

Other Termite-Busting Tactics

The easiest way to get rid of termites that have infested your firewood is to simply throw the wood away. This may seem wasteful, but it’s better than potentially bringing the termites into your home.

Termites
Photo credit: David McClenaghan, CSIRO

Another option is to burn the infested logs in a safe location (preferably outside). Though you may not be able to cozy up to a fire in your living room, you can still have a nice bonfire. Just check to make sure your city ordinances allow it before lighting up the logs.

Always avoid using chemicals to get rid of termites. Treating your firewood with pesticides may help in the short-term, but can cause more serious safety hazards in the long term. Firewood that’s been treated with chemicals or pesticides can combust when lit or release toxic fumes during burning.

In addition to this, it’s unlikely that the chemicals will penetrate the wood enough to actually kill the termites. Instead, it will just cause the termites to burrow deeper, exacerbating your original problem on top of making the firewood useless to you.

If you’re unsure termites are your problem or these tactics aren’t preventing pests, check to make sure termites are actually your problem. The tunnels they drill are typically lined with mud. The termites themselves will either be wingless and a cream or light brown color or darker in color with two sets of wings.

Smooth tunnels or insects that look differently can indicate that your problem isn’t termites, but rather carpenter ants, horntail wasps, woodborers, or bark beetles.

You can also contact a pest control company or professional to come out and assess the damage. They’ll be able to tell you if the problem is actually termites and, if so, what options may be available.

13 Comments

  • I will just mention that “kiln dried” firewood means that someone has burned fossil fuels to get your firewood dry. For anyone looking to burn firewood to reduce their carbon footprint this is counterproductive. I know that it’s not everyone’s primary concern, but food for thought when simply buying a year earlier and leaving the wood to sit more or less accomplishes the exact same thing without the waste.

    Enjoying the site.

    Reply
    • YES! Thank you. (I’ve just stacked my lumber in the top of my garage, to be dried next summer in the heat.)

      Reply
    • John, 99.9% agree with you unless waste heat is used for the drying process. Life these days needs more thought on the environmental impact on eveything we do from what we eat and its carbon foorprint to transport and heating,

      Reply
    • Not that I care about carbon footprint, but there are solar kilns and wood-fired kilns, so not all use fossil fuels.

      Reply
      • I was wondering whether we shouldn’t be concerned with limiting our axe usage. I mean, the more we split wood manually, the more energy we’ll use. The more energy we use, the hungrier we’ll get. I am concerned we will eat too much and therefore require more food to be produced which would require more trucks to replace the food we consumed. Those trucks will burn fossil fuels which will do something really bad. Then we’ll all die.

        I’m really freaked out right now.

        Reply
  • Thank you for the review. Your article clearly covered the subject making the purchase decision that much easier. Very much appreciated!

    Reply
  • How about soaking axe in container of oil to reenforce junction point ,where most breaks happen?

    Reply
  • I’m trying to find more information on a small axe I have. It’s made in Germany, about 24” or so long, and it’s a hand written brand that looks like Tltis. But the internet has not helped so far

    Reply
  • I have become a Collector of old vintage axes since last year, so I thoroughly enjoyed your article. I have an Original Iltis Ox-Head Brand axe with a 7” x 5” cutting edge. Not sure what the head weight is. I have a Hults Bruk vintage axe with a 1.5 pound head. A Sater Banko vintage axe that was my Father’s. It was made in Sweden. It has a 3 pound head. I recently hung another “Made in Sweden” vintage axe head, but I cannot find any axe makers marks or logo. It has a 3, with Made in Sweden under it. I assume it’s a 3 pound head, but curious about which company made it. It is older, but it cleaned up very well and you can tell it’s very good steel. Comments?

    Reply
  • Hi John. Enjoyed your critique of the Fiskars hatchet. I have been in Wilderness Search and Rescue for about 45 years and have carried a hatchet (as needed) since my Boy Scouts days. I own both the Fiskars 28″ axe and the X-7. Both work very well to clear trails. I am wondering if you would be willing to perform and post the exact same handle test on your $ 150.00 hatchet for us as a comparison? Should my X-7 fail, I do plan to use my 21″ bow saw, Laplander folding saw and my K-Bar BK-2 as “plan B”. Thanks again…. Mike

    Reply

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