Air Quality & Your Chimney


How does your chimney impact air quality in the home?

Picture it—sitting beside the fireplace on a cold, frosty night. You’ve got the fire going, no smoke billowing into the house, logs burning evenly, and you’re enjoying the warmth and the subtle scent of wood burning. Before you take a deep breath, though, you may not realize that being able to smell a wood fire burning in the fireplace is actually a sign of danger. If you are smelling smoke, even in small amounts, this indicates that your chimney is not functioning properly, and that the air quality of your home is being compromised. This is especially dangerous for children and elderly, and those with lung cancer or heart disease, whose lung function is more vulnerable.

Children and those advanced in age are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality.

Children and those advanced in age are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality.

There are many things that release pollutants into the air of our homes, and chimneys are no exception. Wood smoke pollution can cause respiratory issues, cardiovascular illness, cancer, and can damage lung tissue. You can, however, have peace of mind in knowing that there are ways  to reduce wood smoke pollution and to increase the safety and efficiency of your fireplace so that it can continue to contribute to the enjoyment of your home.

Wood Smoke Pollution:

  • Hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that can cause cancer
  • Fine particle pollution (ash) that damages lung tissue and creates respiratory problems
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides

Thankfully, there are several solutions to reduce this pollution that can be created by your fireplace and chimney. One option is to replace your current fireplace with a newer, more efficient model that is certified by the EPA. This can be a costly solution, so let’s take a look at a few other things that you can do.

  • Burn only seasoned, dry wood.
  • Burn hardwoods, not softwoods. (Hardwoods burn more slowly and produce less smoke.)
  • Never burn waste of any kind.

The number one thing that you can do is preventive maintenance. Have a chimney specialist regularly inspect and clean your chimney, which will keep your chimney functioning properly and in good working condition.



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