RICHMOND, Va. — If you are planning to use firewood this fall, for home heating or a campfire, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) encourages you to take steps to protect Virginia’s forest ecology and your wallet. When purchasing firewood, always buy it close to where you intend to burn it. Also, be sure to measure the wood to ensure you are receiving full value.
Tree-killing invasive insects and diseases can lurk both inside and on the surface of firewood. While these insects and diseases don’t normally travel far on their own, transporting firewood can allow potentially destructive and non-native organisms to move hundreds of miles and start infestations in new places. In addition, carrying firewood from one area to another may also violate state and federal laws, depending on the region. Anyone traveling from one location to another should not carry firewood to their destination unless it is heat-treated and certified.
Infestations can be costly to control or eradicate, so help stop the spread of damaging forest pests by following these suggestions:
- Buy firewood near where you’ll burn it
- Buy certified heat-treated firewood (look for a state or federal seal)
- Gather firewood on site when permitted
For more information on invasive insects in Virginia, visit www.vdacs.virginia.gov/plant-industry-services.shtml. If you suspect that you have an invasive pest in your area, contact VDACS’ at ReportAPest@vdacs.virginia.gov or your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Service agent at https://ext.vt.edu/offices.html.
Consumers should harvest firewood locally or purchase it from a reputable dealer who is in compliance with state or regional firewood regulations. Purchases of bulk deliveries of firewood for home heating should be made by the cord, which is 128 cubic feet of firewood. A full cord of firewood, when stacked in a compact line or row, with individual pieces touching and parallel to each other, would be a pile that measures:
4 feet wide, 4 feet high and 8 feet long (4 x 4 x 8 = 128)
2 feet wide, 4 feet high and 16 feet long (2 x 4 x 16 = 128)
No matter how the wood is stacked, the width times the height, times the length should equal 128 cubic feet.
Virginia law prohibits sellers from using terms such as “face cord,” “rack” or “pile” when advertising, offering for sale or selling wood for use as fuel. If the buyer visually inspects a truckload of wood and agrees to a selling price for that load, the term “truckload” may be used.
Sellers are also required to provide a delivery ticket or sales invoice upon delivery of any non-packaged fireplace or stove wood. In addition to the vendor’s name and address, the ticket must contain the purchaser’s name and address, the date of delivery, the quantity delivered, the quantity upon which the price is based (if it differs from the delivery quantity), and the total price of the amount delivered.
VDACS provides the following advice for buyers who suspect that they have not received the full amount of wood they paid for:
- Keep the delivery ticket or sales invoice as proof of purchase.
- Pay by check so that you have a record of the purchase.
- Write down the license number of the delivery vehicle.
- Measure the wood before using any of it.
- If you determine the delivery to be short measure, first contact the seller to rectify the shortage.
- If the seller does not cooperate, contact the VDACS Office of Weights and Measures at (804) 786-2476. Do not use any of the firewood prior to the investigation by VDACS.
Consumers should use firewood in a safe and sensible manner. Only use seasoned wood, not green wood, as fuel in fireplaces and wood stoves. Seasoned or dry wood burns cleaner, creates less creosote buildup in chimneys than green wood, and produces up to 25 percent more heat than green wood.
–Michael Wallace, VDACS