Ways to Reduce your Chimney and Fireplace Pollution
You have the power to reduce the amount of pollution created by your fireplace and chimney.
When you burn wood inefficiently, it produces higher levels of harmful gases and particulates that are released into the atmosphere. Increasing the efficiency of your fireplace and using the right fuel can decrease the environmental impact of using your fireplace. You can reduce the environmental impact of using your fireplace by taking a few steps to make your fireplace more eco-friendly.
Top 7 Ways to Reduce Fireplace Pollution
• Only Burn Untreated, Seasoned Firewood
Burning plastic, cardboard, painted wood and other types of treated wood is bad for the environment and your health. When you burn them, they can release toxic chemicals into the air that may aggravate your lungs or cause other health issues. These chemicals are also harmful to animals and the environment.
Untreated wood is safe to burn. If you burn untreated wood that has dried out for at least six months, or seasoned, it will produce less smoke and release less particulates into the atmosphere.
• Open the Damper When the Fireplace is in Use
It can be easy to forget to open the damper when you use your fireplace. If you have a drafty chimney, you may think it lets in the same amount of air whether the damper is open or closed. In most cases, this perception is not true and leaving the damper closed will prevent the fire from getting the air it needs to burn effectively.
• Don’t Tolerate a Smoky Fire
Smoke should go straight up the chimney when you use your fireplace. If it wafts into your home instead, it is a sign that something is wrong with the airflow in the chimney. Often, the problem is that the flue is too cold which can reverse the airflow in the chimney. You can solve this problem by warming up the chimney with a torch, or rolled up cone of paper, held up near the mouth of the chimney. You’ll know it is working when you see the smoke look like it is being pulled up. If this does not fix the problem, you should contact a chimney professional. A smoking fireplace is a risk to you and the environment because these type of low efficiency fires create more carbon monoxide.
• Install a New Chimney Liner
Safety is the primary concern that motivates homeowners to invest in a new chimney liner. You may know that it can reduce the risk of a fire and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning because it prevents hot embers and CO from slipping through cracks or gaps in the masonry. It is also increases the efficiency of your fireplace.
A chimney liner insulates the inside of the chimney from cold temperatures outside. This keeps the flue warmer which improves airflow in the chimney allowing the fire to burn hotter.
• Invest in a Chimney Cap or Chase Cover
A chimney cap or chase cover sits at the top of the chimney. It prevents pests, leaves, and other types of debris from clogging up the top of the chimney and reducing airflow. It is a smart investment especially since it also reduces the risk of water damage.
• Ensure Fireplace & Chimney Additions Are Properly Installed
A poorly installed fireplace insert, bad venting configuration, or improperly installed chimney liner can dramatically decrease the efficiency of your fireplace. Poor installation of a fireplace or chimney component can create airflow problems that increase the amount of pollution generated by the fire. This is why it is important to have any fireplace or chimney addition installed by a certified chimney technician who knows local building codes and standards.
• Have the Chimney Professionally Cleaned & Inspected Annually
Whenever you use your fireplace, deposits of soot or creosote buildup along the walls. Creosote buildup is known for being dangerous because it is highly combustible. It also dampens the chimney’s performance. Just a ½ inch of buildup can restrict airflow in the chimney from 17% to 30% according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America. That can have a big impact on the fire’s ability to burn efficiently. Having your chimney cleaned at least once a year can keep your fireplace running efficiently.
During a cleaning, a certified chimney technician will also inspect it for any signs of damage or wear and tear that could impact the fireplace’s performance.
By using the right fuel and investing in chimney maintenance, you can significantly reduce the impact your fireplace has on the environment. You will benefit from a fireplace that burns longer and hotter.