The leaves have fallen. The days are growing shorter, the shadows are lengthening, and there is a crisp chill in the air. The time has come to unfurl your fuzzy socks, light a fire in the fireplace, and cozy up to enjoy one of the most heartwarming (and hand-warming!) of winter’s comforts–a cheery fire in your fireplace.
Before you strike your first match, however, you will want to take a moment to consider how lighting a fire inside the house will impact the overall air quality in your home and consider what steps you can take to ensure that the air quality stays high.
Part of how you address those concerns, of course, will depend on a few variables.
What Are You Burning in Your Fireplace?
Though it is possible to have a gas or electric fireplace, today we’re going to be focusing on wood-burning fireplaces and how what you choose to burn might affect the overall air quality of your home.
Burning Split and Seasoned Hardwood
Split and seasoned hardwood is wood that has been chopped well in advance and has been left out for enough time that it has been able to dry. Ideally, this hardwood has been divided into small, easy-to-burn logs of relatively even sizes.
The amount of smoke produced by seasoned hardwood depends on many factors, such as how dry the wood is and what type of tree the wood comes from.
Choosing hardwood with less sap will help your fire burn better and reduce the amount of smoke your fire produces. This, in turn, affects the air quality in your home.
A firelog is an artificial (but safe to burn) log that has been synthetically processed. You can pick them up at most box stores, grocery stores, and even gas stations.
Popular firelog brands include:
- Pine Mountain
What exactly is a firelog?
Most are made from post industrial sawdust, cellulose, and waxes. Because they’re made from recycled materials, firelogs have been promoted as being more environmentally friendly than regular wood logs, and as producing fewer emissions, including carbon monoxide.
Some firelogs have even been made with unique fragrances such as coffee.
Though manufacturers of firelogs claim that burning them will release 80 percent fewer fine particles and 75 percent less carbon monoxide into your home, firelogs produce less warmth as they burn than real firewood does.
So while firelogs may be better for maintaining the overall air quality inside your home, they may not produce the warming and atmospheric effects you want.
This is why you will want to take some other matters into consideration.
How Are You Positioning the Wood in Your Fireplace?
In addition to considering what you plan to burn in your fireplace, you must also consider how to position the wood in your fireplace (whether firewood or firelog) to ensure that the smoke goes straight up the chimney and not into your home.
When setting your fire, make sure that
- Your damper is fully open so the smoke can rise up the chimney
- Your chimney is clean and unplugged
- You have a grate beneath your fire to help with airflow
- You have built your fire toward the back of the fireplace
Following these steps help ensure that the smoke goes up the chimney instead of billowing out into your living area, lowering the air quality in your home (not to mention potentially blackening and staining the interior around your fireplace).
3 Ways to Improve Your Air Quality When You Light a Fire
Now that you’ve had some time to choose what burning material is best for you and learned how to stack them, it’s time to light the fire.
Here are three ways you can improve your air quality every time you light a fire.
Consider What You Burn
As we’ve already indicated, you should burn only high-quality seasoned hardwood or firelogs in your fireplace.
When it comes to fire starters, here are a few things you should not burn:
- Glossy paper (such as pages from a magazine)
- Painted or varnished wood
- Clumps of dryer lint
Items such as these not only burn poorly but can release toxins into the air, further lowering the air quality in your home.
Buy Portable Air Purifiers
If you have a small living space and/or only burn fires in your fireplace once in a while, a small portable air purifier may be just the thing you need to help ensure good air quality within your home.
Setting one up in the same room as your fireplace can not only help filter out airborne irritants caused by wood-burning but can also help reduce the heavy smoky smell that can follow a wood-burning fire.
Consider an Air Filtration System
It could be that the time has come to consider installing an HVAC air filtration system in your home.
Doing so will
- Ensure consistent indoor air quality through all seasons
- Reduce particles in the air (including particles from wood smoke)
- Potentially reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease from exposure to wood-burning-related air pollutants
Considering the benefits, if you plan to have a wood burning fire in the fireplace throughout the winter, take time now to consider how an air filtration system for your whole house could benefit you long-term.
Aquarius Home Services Can Help
Though having a fire in the fireplace sounds warm and cozy, there are factors to consider when it comes to how it may affect the air quality in your home.
Before winter is truly upon us, take some time to learn more about how a home air filtration system can improve the air quality in your home (no matter how often you light up a fire in your fireplace). To learn more about having a home air filtration system installed, or to discuss anything else, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.