Answers to your questions about wood poles.
HOW STRAIGHT IS STRAIGHT?
It’s rare to find a tree that is perfectly straight, but as long as the following criteria are met, a pole will provide excellent service:
The sweep (or crook) is in one plane and one direction, with no more than 1 inch deviation per 10 feet of length.
When the sweep is in two planes (double sweep) or in two directions in one plane (reverse sweep), a straight line connecting the mid-point at the groundline with the mid-point at the top does not lie outside the surface of the pole at any intermediate point.
WHY DO INDUSTRY STANDARDS MENTION TREE RINGS?
American National Standards for poles require no fewer than six annual growth rings in the outer 2 inches at the butt. This requirement helps ensure the strength of the pole; fewer rings means faster growth and a greater percentage of springwood, which is less dense than summerwood.
HOW DO I READ A POLE BRAND?
MAY I SEND UNSERVICEABLE POLES TO A LANDFILL?
Yes, but because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists most wood treating chemicals as hazardous, you may be required by the landfill operator to conduct a Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) test on the scrap poles to demonstrate that the hazardous chemicals are permanently fixed in the wood. You may also be required to cut the poles into shorter lengths that can be easily handled by the landfill operator.
MAY I GIVE AWAY MY UNSERVICEABLE POLES?
You may be approached to give away your unserviceable poles for use as landscape timbers, parking lot bumpers, fence posts, barriers, playground equipment, firewood, boat docks, or some other seemingly useful purpose. Whereas such applications may seem useful, be aware that some of the uses above stated may be specifically prohibited by the EPA. If you give away your unserviceable poles, we strongly recommend that you assure yourself that the use is permitted and that the recipient of the unserviceable poles actually uses them in the way represented. We strongly recommend that you have your attorney draw up a release form to be signed by all recipients of unserviceable poles and that you keep the release forms on file in perpetuity.
MAY I BURN UNSERVICEABLE POLES?
The burning of wood treated with chemical preservatives in the open, in fireplaces or in residential boilers is prohibited as a means of disposal.
WHAT SPECIFICATIONS APPLY TO TREATED WOOD POLES?
ANSI 05:1 – Specifications and Dimensions (for Wood Poles).
REA Bulletin 1728F-700 – REA Specification for Wood Poles, Stubs and Anchor Logs.
AWPA C1 – All Timber Products – Preservative Treatment by Pressure Process.
AWPA C4 – Poles – Preservative Treatment by Pressure Process.
WHAT SIZES OF POLES ARE AVAILABLE?
WHY DO THE CHEMICALS STAY IN THE WOOD?
When the liquid treating solutions wash the thousands of tiny internal and external surfaces of the tracheids, the naturally occurring wood sugars react with the active ingredients of the treating solution and bind them within the tracheids.
HOW DOES THE CENTER OF A POLE GET TREATED?
Softwoods such as southern yellow pine are made up of thousands of elongated wood cells that are closed at the ends. These cells are called tracheids and can be compared to a bundle of very small straws glued together. The wall of each tracheid has a series of openings called pits that enable fluids to be transferred from one cell to another during the life of a tree. These openings also provide for passage of treating solution into the wood. Because the tracheids and pits are very small and may be plugged with resins, pressure is needed to push the treating solution deep into the wood.
WHY SOUTHERN YELLOW PINE?
Southern yellow pine (comprising longleaf, shortleaf, loblolly and slash pine species) is plentiful and fast growing, plus it’s the strongest softwood for its weight. It grows tall, and its shape is well suited for poles. Southern yellow pine is also one of the most easily treated species.