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Does Wood-Burning Affect Indoor Air Quality

Does Wood-Burning Affect Indoor Air QualityIf your home is older, it may have a wood burning fireplace or stove that you use for supplemental heat or ambience. While wood is a natural and renewable fuel, it can lower your indoor air quality (IAQ). Nearly everything that burns has byproducts, and wood is no different. It releases carbon monoxide (CO), particulates, and combustion gases when burned.

When you burn wood in a fireplace, wood stove, or even a campfire, you expose yourself to tiny particulates from wood smoke that can be inhaled. The EPA considers these particles dangerous enough to issue air quality warnings when they reach excessive levels outdoors.

The problem with tiny particles in your lungs is that they are difficult, if not impossible, to dislodge. Over time, they may function as irritants and cause more serious respiratory problems.

Wood stoves and fireplaces sometimes push smoke into the air when they backdraft. A fire built with wet wood or burning when winds are exceptionally strong will force smoke down the chimney and into the interior space. Burning under these conditions has a serious effect on indoor air quality.

Carbon monoxide is a more serious threat than the particulate matter stoves emit because it’s lethal. It has no odor, it’s invisible and tasteless. Unless you have a working CO detector, you won’t know it’s reaching unsafe levels in the air.

Safety and Burning Wood Indoors

  • Any home with a working fireplace or wood stove should have fully functional smoke and CO detectors. Test the batteries monthly during the winter.
  • Consider replacing your stove with an EPA-certified wood burning product. They’re made for fireplaces and wood stoves. New units that are EPA-certified offer highly efficient burning and almost no combustion waste. Nearly all the heat they create is used inside instead of going up the chimney.

You don’t have to give up the allure and efficiency that an indoor fireplace or stove offers in order to protect your indoor air quality. To learn more, contact Beyer Boys, providing HVAC services for San Antonio homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Antonio, Texas area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).