Air Quality in a Home with a Chimney

In today’s world a lot of attention is being paid to the environment and rightfully so. Discussions of rising sea levels and of air quality dominate the nation’s collective conversation as we face an ever-growing need to be aware of the impact we have on the environment. For fireplace owners this can be especially important to pay attention to as chimneys can contribute to air pollution but what most people do not consider is not only the affect a chimney has on the air outside of your home but how it affects the air inside of your home.

A chimney that is not ventilating toxic gases properly can cause this air to flow into your home.

A chimney that is not ventilating toxic gases properly can cause this air to flow into your home.

Chimney maintenance is important to keep up with for a variety of reason but one of the most important and often forgotten reasons is to maintain the air quality of your home. When anything burns it produces byproducts as a result of the chemical actions that are taking place. When the fuel being burned is wood the byproducts can be harmful to humans and animals if not properly ventilated and dissipated. One of the most dangerous is carbon monoxide or CO2.

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas that can cause death in an adult human in minutes in the right concentration. One of the functions of a chimney is to vent out this gas into the atmosphere where it is quickly dissipated. If the internal seal of a chimney is not maintained properly it can begin leaking this and other gases into your home. The best way to prevent this from happening is to have your chimney cleaned and inspected once a year by a certified chimney sweep. If they see a crack in the lining or a blockage that can lead to the smoke and gases backing up into your home they will recommend the proper course of action to take to restore your chimney to safe working condition. Additionally it is always good procedure to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home and to test it regularly.

Sometimes a problem can be caused by simple oversight. Always make sure that your flue is open and unblocked before starting a fire. If your flue is closed there is no way for the smoke to go up the chimney and it will fill your house up very quickly. It is a small step but vitally important to maintain clean air in your home. It is also good practice to check your air filters in your air conditioner and change them on a regular basis.

Air quality may not be the first thing you think of when addressing the safety issues of a fireplace but it is very important. With proper care and maintenance your fireplace will burn well, your chimney will ventilate properly, and the air in your home will be safe and clean to breathe.