Curling up by the fireplace, with a book and coffee, is a timeless and romantic image. Yte, this image may mask harmful consequences for you and your family. For example, the burning wood releases toxins such as arsenic, dioxin, formaldehyde, and benzene, alongside microscopic particles (also known as particulate matter), which can cause runny noses, burning eyes, and illnesses like bronchitis. Particulate matter is also a trigger for asthmatic attacks and research has linked it to heart and lung disease. Furthermore, wood stoves and open fireplaces are inefficient, losing more heat than they produce. Luckily for you, there are ways that you can make your fireplace more efficient and healthier.
A More Efficient Fireplace
The American Lung Association suggests using greener sources of heat, which happen to be less toxic than burning wood. There are, of course, efficient fireplaces that do not rely on burning wood, burning instead, natural gas, or propane, and which eliminate many of the dangerous toxins involved in burning wood. However, these tend to rely on the use of unsustainable fossil fuels.
Pellet stoves are a green alternative that is also efficient, emitting 3 grams of particulate matter every hour. They work much like wood stoves, except that they burn renewable fuels like wood chips, sawdust, and biomass wastes which have been compressed into pellets. The typical pellet stove costs $3,500 to $4,000, installation included, and is available as an insert or free-standing stove. The majority of pellet stoves use electricity to manage the flow pellets into the stove. To keep ash buildup to a minimum, use premium-grade pellets.
As green and efficient as pellet stoves are, many people still desire the ambience that burning wood creates. One solution for those people is a wood-burning stove certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that requires less wood to create the same amount of heat as a wood stove, while emitting 2-7grams/hour of harmful particles as opposed to 15-30grams/hour for traditional stoves. This new stove costs $3,500 to $4,200, installation included.
Many people cannot upgrade their stoves or fireplaces, for a multitude of reasons. You can still improve the performance of your stove or fireplace and reduce the risks to your health. The first thing is to get it inspected annual by one of the many certified professionals in the business. Whenever the inspector recommends that you clean the stove or fireplace, get professional cleaners to do so. This will help maintain performance levels while reducing the buildup of creosote, which tends to buildup in older wood stoves and fireplaces. The inspector and cleaners will search for trapped wildlife and debris and wildlife, which often force toxic gases into the home. Placing a chimney cap should keep animals and rain out and keep the area safe from sparks flying about and landing on combustible materials or the roof. When we have firewood for sale delivered, we often forget that when the fire is raging, we should maintain airflow and prevent soot and dust buildup, and that we should shovel surplus ash into a sealed metal container, and keep it outside.