The Truth About Fireplaces & Indoor Air Quality
Winter is almost here, and if you’re a fireplace owner, you probably anticipate lighting that first fire of the season. However, with so many people discussing the importance of indoor air quality, you may wonder if and how your fireplace affects it. In this post, we look at the science of how your fireplace impacts the air in your home and what you can do to mitigate any negatives.
Wood Fireplaces & Indoor Air Pollution
Many people don’t realize it, but the air in the home is often more polluted than the air outside. Between dust, pet dander, smoke, cleaning chemicals, and allergens, it’s no wonder many suffer from increased allergic reactions and breathing issues.
Wood-burning fireplaces aren’t the best heating source for people worried about indoor air quality because the smoke from burning wood contains ultra-fine particles, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxide, which can scar lung tissue. Many experts believe the smoke from a wood- burning fireplace is just as harmful to your health as tobacco smoke. Moreover, even a well-ventilated chimney isn’t enough to remove all the particles and chemicals.
According to the EPA, The biggest health threat from smoke comes from fine particles — also called fine particulate matter or PM2.5. These microscopic particles can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they can cause burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses such as bronchitis.
What About Gas Fireplaces?
Now that you’ve been thoroughly frightened about using your wood-burning fireplace, you may wonder if switching to gas is a better option. Well, they have problems too. According to the National Library of Medicine, High CO and NO2 concentrations have been documented in homes with uneven combustion appliances, such as natural gas fireplaces. The acute health risks of CO and NO2 exposure have been well established or the general population and for certain high-risk groups, including the elderly and people with heart disease or asthma.
Making Your Fireplace Safer
All this talk about illness, fine particulate, and chemicals in the home may cause you to swear off using your fireplace again. Still, there’s no need to be hasty because you can do things that significantly reduce the risks while allowing you to enjoy a cozy fire. Here are some solutions to consider.
Install An Air Purifier
The air in your home is often more polluted than outside, whether you use a fireplace or not. So, installing an air purifier is an excellent way to filter out fine particulate matter, allergens, dust, and debris for better health. There is a wide range of portable air purifiers that use HEPA and carbon filters to trap the smallest particles.
Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Whether you use a gas or wood- burning fireplace, you can’t have too many carbon monoxide detectors throughout the house. Carbon monoxide is a threat stemming from improper fuel combustion. Carbon monoxide’s effects can be minimized with proper ventilation; however, it’s better to be safe than sorry and be alerted if levels in the house get out of control.
Hire a Chimney Sweep
Needless to say, your chimney plays a crucial role in how well your fireplace runs and its proper ventilation. A chimney caked with creosote can impede ventilation, causing more harmful chemicals and particles to remain in the house. Furthermore, a dirty chimney also increases exposure to toxic fumes and foul odors. Hiring a certified chimney sweep for yearly cleaning and maintenance removes the harmful buildup for improved ventilation and air quality. Moreover, creosote buildup is a primary cause of chimney fires, so routine cleaning keeps you and your family safe.
Call Mercer County Chimney Service
Mercer County Chimney Service is a trusted chimney and fireplace maintenance and repair company in Hamilton, NJ. Our technicians are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fireplace Institute. We also provide required chimney inspections for real estate transactions to ensure your chimney, stove, or fireplace is up to code. If you live in Mercer County, contact us at 609-802-5288 or fill out our online form and let us show you how we can help you get the most out of your wood burning or gas fireplace, insert, or stove.