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Clear the Air!

Your Chimney And Improving Air Quality

When we talk about chimney and heating appliance safety, we all tend to focus mostly on fire — we can all easily see the danger that comes with improper handling of fire, and the damage that can result. But the truth is, we should be just as concerned with air quality when we’re talking about safer use of home heating appliances.

If a chimney is poorly designed, improperly installed/maintained or damaged, dangerous pollutants can leak into your living area, from small particles to irritating nitrogen dioxide or highly toxic carbon monoxide. Avoiding that is part of annual chimney inspections are so important.

The Effects Of Common Heating-related Pollutants

Indoor air pollution can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory conditions.

Indoor air pollution can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory conditions.

You don’t want these pollutants in your air, and — via studies from the United States Environmental Protection Agency — here’s why:

Small Combustion Byproduct Particles

Burning fuel in your fireplace, stove or insert will create small particles that, in a well-built and well-maintained chimney, will be carried up the flue and out of the home. If those particles get into your living area and you breathe them in, you can end up with anything from respiratory irritation to damaged lung tissue.

Nitrogen Dioxide

If nitrogen dioxide leaks into your space, you can end up with trouble breathing or an irritated nose, eyes and throat. People with respiratory issues or asthma are a particular worry here.

Carbon Monoxide

Burning fuel produces this toxic gas, and since you can’t see it or smell it, chimney professionals make a point of bringing up how important it is to be aware of it. CO poisoning can lead to nausea and dizziness, headaches and other problems. At high concentrations, it can be deadly.

Limiting Your Exposure To Air Pollutant

The first step toward limiting your exposure to pollutants related to your heating appliance and chimney is to have your system inspected annually, and swept regularly. A clean chimney drafts better (to better remove those byproducts), and an inspection ensures that you — and Clean Sweeps of Michigan — can be on top of any problems or damage that need addressing.

A few other ways to minimize air pollutants:

Follow Smart Burning Practices

While Clean Sweeps can help a lot through annual maintenance and necessary repairs, ultimately, cleaner, smarter burning hinges on you, too. You’ll make a marked difference in air quality if you focus on using your appliance the right way. Always make sure your damper is wide open when you’re starting a fire. Only burn seasoned or kiln-dried firewood in your wood-burning appliance. Clean out ash regularly, and never throw trash (or anything else that isn’t seasoned cordwood) into your fire.

Consider Cleaner Burning Appliances

Older stoves and fireplaces can be beautiful, but they’re not always super efficient or clean-burning. Newer appliances on the market — in particular, EPA-approved and -certified fireplaces, stoves and inserts — are designed to burn cleaner, more efficiently and to help improve air quality. If you’re using an old, inefficient heating appliance, we can introduce you to a new unit that can improve your air and save you money on fuel!

Install And Maintain Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Since carbon monoxide can’t be seen or smelled, a CO detector can be the only way you’ll be aware of a leak. Make sure you have a detector on every floor, and check the batteries regularly (changing them once a year is a worthwhile plan).

Cleaner air is as important to Clean Sweeps of Michigan as it is to you. If there’s anything we can do to help, give us a call!