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Is Your Fireplace Affecting Your Indoor Air Quality?

Wood-Burning vs. Gas Fireplaces

Generally speaking, whenever you burn fuel, you release emissions into the air. Your fireplace is no exception. Whether you have a wood-burning or a gas fireplace, you will release emissions every time you use the fireplace. This can have an impact on both your indoor air quality as well as general air pollution.

Fireplaces can emit:

  • Fine particles
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Toxic fumes

A wood-burning fireplace or stove releases significantly more pollutants into the air than a gas fireplace. Woodsmoke, in particular, releases far more particles than a gas fireplace. Consequently, many cities have instituted “no burn” days or periods to limit the number of emissions being released when people use their fireplaces.

While Atlanta does not have fireplace burning restrictions, they have open, outdoor burning (such as bonfires) restrictions during the summer months.

How to Mitigate Air Contaminants from Your Fireplace

If you enjoy having your fireplace going throughout the autumn and winter, it’s important that you also prioritize your indoor air quality. With a little work, you can help mitigate the pollutants your fireplace may release.

Symptoms of reduced indoor air quality include:

  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Congestion
  • Increased asthma symptoms
  • Respiratory issues
  • Increased dust around your home

Changing your HVAC air filters regularly can help reduce the number of pollutants in your home. However, this is not necessarily enough to completely mitigate the pollutants caused by your fireplace. Instead, we recommend that you investigate more aggressive indoor air quality solutions, such as installing an air cleaner or air filter that can combat fine particles. For example, a HEPA filter can remove 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger.

Should You Convert Your Wood-Burning Fireplace?

One of the best ways to address the air pollution and toxic fumes released by your wood-burning fireplace is to convert your fireplace to gas-only. Most homes already have a gas line run to their fireplaces, and this is what most homeowners use to ignite their fires. The process is fairly simple if you want to convert your wood-burning fireplace to a gas one and already have a gas line.

Gas conversion kits are sold online (and in some stores). Depending on the features you want (such as remote control ignition), it may only cost a few hundred dollars.

Is It Better to Use Your Furnace?

When it comes to air quality, yes, using your furnace is the better choice. Not only does your central heating system have built-in air filtration, but even traditional combustion furnaces that burn gas emit fewer pollutants. Central heating is also more efficient at warming your home than a fireplace.

However, we also recognize that heating efficiency is not the only reason people use fireplaces. The aesthetics and atmosphere that a roaring fireplace creates cannot be replicated. We recommend that if you do not switch to using only your central heating, you convert your wood-burning fireplace to gas, install some sort of air filtration system, and limit how much you use your fireplace overall.

Looking for more help improving your indoor air quality this fall? Call the experts at Premier Indoor Comfort Systems, LLC. We have the answers.

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