Don’t Let Air Quality Issues Keep You From Enjoying Your Fireplace

The first sign of an air quality issue relating to your home heating appliance is usually smoke: the smell of it, or sight of it billowing into your room. If someone in your home is struggling with respiratory issues like asthma, errant smoke will quickly — and very negatively — affect their lives. For starters, smoke carries particulates from unburned fuel that can aggravate respiratory systems. But what you can see and smell isn’t all you should be concerned about. Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless and toxic, and if smoke is coming into your living area, there’s a good chance excess CO is in there, too.

When smoke is coming out of your fireplace, there are also hazardous gasses flowing in as well. You could have a draft problem.

When smoke is coming out of your fireplace, there are also hazardous gasses flowing in as well. You could have a draft problem.

When your chimney is working the way it should — when proper draft is pulling all of the byproducts of combustion up and expelling them from your home — air quality shouldn’t be an issue. So less-than-clear air is an indicator that there’s a problem in your system. Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep technicians can figure out your specific problem, and share solutions, during a chimney inspection. But here are some things to think about, which can help maintain or improve your air quality, in the meantime.

Solutions To Air Quality Issues

Keep Current With Regular Maintenance

Dirty flues will impede draft and prevent your chimney from venting properly, leading to smoke intrusion. Gaps and other kinds of damage can let gases leak into your living area. The best way to know that your chimney is clean and that cracks or gaps aren’t allowing particles and gases to leak is to stay current with your routine maintenance.

Your best practice: Schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection appointment once a year, ahead of the heating season, and have any areas of damage — from flue liner cracks to stuck dampers — repaired before you begin regularly using your appliance. With Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, your sweeping and inspection go together — we sweep every chimney we inspect, so we can get a clean and clear look at the state of the appliance and flue. We also video scan the flue to get the closest look possible — and we’re able to visually and clearly share our findings with you, too.

Replace An Old, Inefficient Appliance With A New, EPA-Certified One

Older stoves and fireplaces, including masonry fireplaces, can be highly inefficient, and our industry has taken incredible strides in improving emission levels over the years. EPA-certified wood stoves, fireplaces and inserts made and sold today are built to create the optimum environment for fuel burning — and near complete combustion makes smoke almost nonexistent. EPA guidelines require these appliances to emit less than 7.5 grams of particulate per hour. Older units often give off as much as 42 grams per hour — a pretty remarkable difference.

A properly functioning, EPA-certified appliance — one that’s sized properly for the space, with a properly sized and installed flue — can make a really noticeable difference when it comes to the air quality in your home.

Be Particular About Your Fuel

Steer clear of burning green wood or anything else that isn’t seasoned or kiln-dried cordwood. Pressure-treated wood and lots of other materials (like plastic) can give off dangerous fumes when burned. And wood that hasn’t been dried properly (at least six months to a year) will give off far more smoke, negatively affecting your air quality.

Give us a call — Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep techs can share other methods for keeping your chimney system working its best, and if any problems do come up, we’re here to fix them.