indoor air pollution Archives - Total Chimney Care

Total Chimney Care's Blog

Air Quality Indoors

Do you think the air you breathe inside is cleaner than the air outdoors? Sometimes the air quality in your home is compromised, especially when you don't pay attention to your fireplace and chimney.

Do you think the air you breathe inside is cleaner than the air outdoors? Sometimes the air quality in your home is compromised, especially when you don’t pay attention to your fireplace and chimney.

Imagine you’re sitting in front of your fireplace on a blustery winter night. You have a roaring fire going, the flue is adjusted perfectly so no smoke is billowing into the house, logs are burning evenly, and you’re enjoying the warmth and the intoxicating scent of wood burning. That last little bit of information, however, is a real sign of danger, as being able to smell a wood fire burning in the fireplace, even in small amounts, is a sure sign that your chimney is not functioning properly.

Dangerous Combustion Byproducts

Fireplaces provide a lot of things we want: heat, light, ambiance, and a soothing crackle. The combustion happening in the fireplace, however, also provides byproducts we don’t want or need—smoke and toxic gases. Wood smoke in your home contains one or more of the following: hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that can cause cancer, fine particle pollution (ash) that damages lung tissue and creates respiratory problems, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO), formaldehyde, and/or nitrogen oxides. It is your chimney’s job to contain and remove those byproducts from your home. A poorly performing chimney is allowing those harmful byproducts to remain in your living space, thereby diminishing the quality of the air in your home.

Indoor Air Quality and your Health

Your poorly functioning chimney inevitably has a negative effect on the quality of the air in your home, especially for children, elderly family members, and those with lung cancer and/or heart disease. Smoke can have a marked effect on people with respiratory issues (e.g., asthma). Another major concern of a poorly functioning chimney is that it can allow colorless, odorless—and toxic—CO gases to remain in your home. It is a natural byproduct of the wood burning process, and, because you cannot see or smell it, it can make you sick without your even knowing it’s there. As a matter of fact, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can even be deadly.

Small Things All Homeowners Can Do

There are small things you as a homeowner can do to improve the quality of the air in your home. Open the flue when using your fireplace. Have your chimney and fireplace inspected by a CSIA-certified technician annually to keep it running at the optimal level. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home if you don’t have them installed already. Improved ventilation will improve air quality by increasing the amount of fresh outdoor air coming into your home, which will help to dilute the concentrations of indoor pollutants and push stale indoor air out of your home. It’s also extremely important to make sure that the chimney is properly sealed. A well-vented, tight-fitting fireplace/chimney combination will move those harmful gases up and out of your home, which will greatly improve the overall quality of the air remaining inside.

Yearly chimney inspections and cleanings will go a long way to improving the overall indoor air quality in your home. The trained staff at Total Chimney Care is at the ready to help you increase the overall air quality in your home with the extensive list of fireplace and chimney services. Contact us today to schedule all of your necessary services.

Getting Air Ducts Clean

The What

What is Air Duct Cleaning?

Basically, air duct cleaning refers to the cleaning of various heating and cooling system parts of air systems, including the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, including heat exchangers in heating and cooling. When you neglect this part of your home, the dust bunnies have free reign to clog up your air vents. And not just dust…debris and mold can also accumulate.

It is bitterly cold, so the air inside your home needs to be free of pollutants. Getting your air vents cleaned is a crucial step.

It is bitterly cold, so the air inside your home needs to be free of pollutants. Getting your air vents cleaned is a crucial step.

The Why

When these culprits build up in your air vents, it can cause problems for the air you breathe. The EPA recommends that if you share a household with anyone who suffers from allergies, asthma or other respiratory conditions, you should ensure your ducts are cleaned. Indoor air pollution is real and can have real consequences for your health. And in these cold months — it is critical to maintain good air quality inside.

If you are fortunate enough not to have breathing difficulties, there is another reason for getting the ducts cleaned — efficiency. If you have a fireplace, wood stove, or fuel-burning furnace, it is recommended you maintain clean ducts in order to increase the performance of heating and cooling systems. Beyond making sure you are getting the most from your system, technicians can also make sure you aren’t unduly at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Here are the signs that a cleaning is due:

  • There is visible dust and debris
  • There is visible mold
  • There is an infestation of house rodents and insects

The How

Certified technicians will open doors and access points to get a look at the air flow in your home. They will inspect to make sure there are no asbestos-like substances. Then, they will use vacuum equipment that shoots particles outside of the home or use only high-efficiency particle air (HEPA) vacuuming. Brushes will be used, in conjunction with the vacuum to clean out the air vents. The technician will also make sure everything is sealed where it is supposed to be. They should also protect your furnishings and carpet. The EPA has also developed this handy checklist for homeowners to make sure the technician did the job thoroughly.

The Who

Maybe you are a customer whose chimney we also take care or maybe you are a new customer looking for someone reliable and meticulous to help improve the air quality in your home. Either way, here at Total Chimney, we’ve been building relationships in this area since 1996. Let us help make your indoor air as pristine as we can.

By Steve Sobczak on January 7th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment