Common Defects: Wood Piles

Many people with rural homes keep wood piles in or near their house for easy access when they need firewood to fuel a fireplace, wood burner or an outdoor fire. If you use wood frequently, it’s obviously convenient to have quick, easy access to the wood; but unfortunately, the cons of keeping wood in or near the house can easily outweigh the pros.

Wood piles are a welcome habitat for wood-destroying insects, mice, snakes and other unwelcome vermin. In the winter, when burning wood is most common, the warm interior of your home is especially inviting to these pests. If the wood is inside, against or close to the house, it is fairly likely that you’ll have an unwanted pest intrusion problem before long.

Wood is ideally kept at least 30 feet from the house. That may seem like a far distance, but in reality 30 feet isn’t as far as it sounds. It’s generally far enough away to prevent pests from entering the structure but close enough to prevent you from having to walk too far to collect the wood.

Of course, wood is ideally dry to perform best when it’s burned, but keeping the wood dry while it’s outside can be difficult. One way this can be accomplished is by placing the wood on pallets on a level surface and covering the wood. Another option is creating a roof structure for the purpose of covering the wood pile(s). In any case, the wood outside will never be completely moisture-free, but it will be mostly dry and ready for use if proper measures are taken to ensure adequate drainage around the wood pile and prevention of direct contact with water.

Keeping wood inside the house – often in an area like an unfinished basement – can be very appealing since it prevents having to go outside at all and ensures the highest likelihood that the wood will stay dry. This is not a good idea, though, since the wood may already contain insects and other vermin that have now been freely brought right into your home. As with most things, the easiest way is unfortunately not the best way.

Don’t risk a major pest infestation or potential structural damage by keeping wood too close. The convenience of doing so is very appealing, but you’re far better off not risking a problem that could quickly overshadow the ease. Keep wood at least 30 feet from structure, and take measures to adequately protect the wood and keep it dry. When you do run out to grab a few logs, check them over before bringing them inside. Managing wood the right way is certainly less convenient, but it’s a much smarter option for preventing potential problems.

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Author: hillinspections

I am a Certified Master Inspector (CMI) and the owner and operator of Hill Property Inspections LLC, the top-rated inspection company in the greater Johnstown, PA area, based out of western Pennsylvania. I specialize in property inspections and environmental testing services and have a passion for helping my own clients and other families in learning to properly maintain their homes. I’m also the owner of Hill Pest Control, LLC and a pest management professional committed to helping our clients rid their homes and businesses of unwanted pests. I am an Army veteran, former State Farm Insurance Agent, and real estate investor with experience in all facets of real estate construction, transaction and insurance. I am also the founder and President of the Southwestern PA Chapter of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and an affiliate member of the Cambria-Somerset Association of Realtors (CSAR).

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