Fireplace Tips

Useful Fireplace Tips

This time of year fireplaces across the area are burning—both for additional heat and ambiance. But did you know there are many variables that you control that can impact both the indoor air quality of your home as well as what blows out your chimney?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the best wood to use for your fireplace has been seasoned outside, off the ground and covered, for at least 6 months with a moisture content of 20 percent or lower, and was harvested locally.

The EPA also has the following tips to keep indoor and outdoor air quality safe while using your fireplace:

  • Never start a fire with gasoline, diesel or charcoal starter; use newspaper, dry kindling or natural fire starters;
  • Never burn household trash, including cardboard, plastics, foam, magazines, boxes, and wrapping paper, because they contain chemicals that can be released into your home and the atmosphere (high levels of toxic metals such as barium); and,
  • Fireplaces manufactured after 1992 are much cleaner-burning.

Any smoke that comes from your fireplace is made up of gases and fine particles (PM2.5); the hotter it burns with well-seasoned firewood, the less chance of harmful air pollutants infiltrating your home and outdoor atmosphere.

Curt Campbell PE, Vice President of Engineering & Natural Resources at Westward, is a LEED AP engineer and suggests researching fireplaces when building or retrofitting a home or business, “The U.S. Green Building Council states that fireplaces used for LEED-certified structures must provide doors that close or a solid glass enclosure to minimize gases seeping into occupied space.”

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