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Ways to Reduce your Chimney and Fireplace Emissions

chimney creosote build up in avoca wiWhenever you use a wood-burning fireplace, smoke emissions are created.  There’s no way to avoid this completely, but there are things you can do to ensure you’re creating a minimal amount of particulate emissions.  Here are some ideas.

Burn the right wood

Hardwoods such as oak and hickory produce a lot less smoke (which contains the emission particles) than soft woods like spruce or pine.  Hardwoods have the additional benefit of burning longer.

Make sure your system is correctly installed

Excess smoke and emissions also can result from a fireplace that has an opening that’s larger than the flue opening.  This configuration creates an imbalance in the air flow, which causes logs to not combust fully.  Chimney liners that are the wrong size and chimneys that aren’t tall enough are other factors that affect how well wood burns.

Damper operation

As you probably already figure out, air flow is critical to efficient burns and therefore reduced emissions.  Your fireplace damper is an important element in allowing inside air to pass into the firebox and up the chimney.  If the damper isn’t fully open (or if it’s damaged and can’t open fully), less air will reach the fire and logs will have trouble burning properly.

Vacuum conditions

If your house is air-tight or close to it, there may not be sufficient air getting into the firebox.  Smoke naturally wants to rise, so if you smell or see smoke inside your home, try cracking a window to release the vacuum.  Remember: any time sufficient air can’t mingle with the fire, burning efficiency will be hampered.

Obstructed chimney

Another thing that will cause an airflow problem is a chimney that is blocked by obstructions.  This can include a buildup of creosote, which is produced by smoke, and also excess debris or small animal nests (or the animals themselves) that impede the path of the smoke.  Professional cleaning will solve this problem and allow wood to burn more completely.

Add a liner

A chimney liner does more than protect the chimney.  It also keeps the hot air inside the chimney while warding off colder air outside.  Smoke travels much easier through hot air than cold air, which means better airflow, more thorough burns and fewer particulate emissions.

McGregor IA fireplace and chimney cleaningInspection and cleaning

Professional inspection and cleaning will make a big difference in how well your fireplace operates, so make sure to have a certified chimney sweep look at your system at least once a year.

If you want to know more about fireplace efficiency and reducing emissions, get in touch with Chimney Specialists of Highland, Wisconsin.  We know what it takes to make fireplaces operate at peak efficiency, which will give you better heating, lower utility bills and the satisfaction knowing you’re doing something good for the environment.  Visit us at 869 Main St., or reach us by phone at (608) 929-4887.

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