Break the Habit – Don’t Light Up
The fireplace is often a wonderful focal point in home décor, and in fact, it is the 3rd most sought after amenity for potential home buyers. 55% of American homes have at least one fireplace, and in the Northwest, most of them are not just decorative features, but used to heat the home, particularly in a tree-rich place like Longview, Washington. Unfortunately, there are many problems with using fire as a primary source of heat, and homeowners should seriously consider a safe and clean heat pump.
The Elephant in the Room
There is an obvious danger in fireplace heating so it is best to get it out of the way: accidental home fires. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the latest statistics from 2012 show a continuing pattern: fireplaces are responsible for slightly over 50% of house fires (21,200 out of 41,800). Unlike wiring, water heaters, electronics, and other home essentials, eliminating the use of a fireplace is, in itself, a realistic preventative measure against this kind of disaster.
Catching the Flue
Clearly, wood-burning is not a clean practice; there is a continuous build-up of soot and other debris in the flue. A great number of fireplace accidents occur in the flue in the following way: build-up in the flue can act as a source of fuel, heated by the fire below, which causes the flue (and surrounding masonry) to reach temperatures that can cause cracking in the chimney structure and actually cause wood framework outside of the masonry to catch fire. Once the heat reaches 1800 degrees on the flue, a very dangerous situation is in the making.
It’s in the Air
Another big one. Most people know the unpleasant feeling of the smoke from a campfire blowing right in your face; this problem is multiplied when the fire is in your home fireplace. Yes, the flue and damper aid in ventilation but there is still a great deal of smoke, airborne debris, and carcinogens that stream into and throughout the house. The Cleveland Clinic notes that burning eyes, a runny nose, and bronchitis are among the risks, the latter due to “particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter.” Particles this small as this can reach deep into the lungs and even the bloodstream.
No Thank You, I Don’t Smoke
The sad truth is that if you are exposed to continuous fireplace wood-burning, it can be worse for you than actual cigarette smoking. In fact, one study found that the carcinogens in wood-burning smoke to be as much as 30 times more dangerous than cigarette smoke. In addition, due to the size of most particles (less than one micron), they often are too light to settle and can remain airborne indefinitely.
Limited Heat Coverage
Aside from the health and safety hazards that wood-burning present, the most inconvenient aspect of using fireplaces as a heat source is that heat doesn’t travel well on its own. Anyone who has used a fireplace knows that it can get a toasty 80 degrees in the living room while you can still make ice cubes in the bedrooms. Some heat will eventually permeate other areas of the home, but very slowly and never proportionally. Heat needs help to travel.
No one is suggesting that your fireplace should be removed – as stated previously, they are highly sought-after, a great visual centerpiece, and increase a home’s value, but using it as a primary heat source is impractical and often unsafe.
A professionally-installed heat pump is, by far, the best option for heating a home. It reduces the chance of an accidental house fire, removes the threat of clogging and overheating of the flue, does not require the use of a damper, does not release deadly carcinogens, and can ensure that heat gets to every needed area of the home. So trade that woodpile for clean, reliable heat pump – at the very least, your back will thank you when you eliminate all of that chopping!
Contact Entek HVAC of Longview, WA, for your heat pump needs.
Choosing a Heat Pump for Your Home