Health Risks of Ventless Fireplaces

Health Risks of Ventless Fireplaces

Beware of the hazards before going ventless

By Sylvia Cochran

Ventless Fireplace
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Installing a ventless fireplace is a lot quicker and cheaper than building a traditional fireplace with firebox and chimney. However, there are some health risks you should be aware of before choosing a ventless fireplace as a commonly used heating option in your home.A ventless fireplace burns propane or natural gas. It does not require a chimney or flue to work properly. Although it's an easier route when it comes to updating your fireplace, it's important to be aware of the risks of ventless fireplaces.

Oxygen Depletion and Carbon Monoxide Release

A ventless fireplace is not completely ventless, since it still needs oxygen to properly burn the gas that fuels it. This process takes oxygen from a room's air and emits carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a well-known health risk. The odorless and colorless gas may cause headaches, flu-like symptoms and may also lead to unconsciousness. When combined with the depletion of oxygen in a sealed room, a ventless fireplace has the potential for causing the same symptoms. There is the danger of increasing the carbon monoxide emission if the tuning of the unit's burner sufficiently deviates from its optimal setting. If the makeup of the fuel changes or if you operate your ventless fireplace at an altitude that differs from the one at which the burners were configured, you may also increase the risk of heightening the carbon monoxide output.

Heightened Humidity Increases Mold Risks

In addition to producing carbon monoxide as a by-product of the burning process, ventless fireplaces also generate water vapors when you burn natural gas or propane. This water vapor increases the humidity within the room. Since the room in which the fireplace operates is likely sealed off against the outside air to prevent heat from escaping, the increase in moisture potentially contributes to a room environment that is favorable for mold growth. Molds are known allergens that may affect adults and could cause even worse allergies in children, due to their smaller sizes.

Malfunctions Release Combustion By-Products That Affect a Fetus

The natural gas that powers a ventless fireplace is a fossil fuel. If your ventless fireplace malfunctions, it may release a number of undesirable combustion by-products into the air you breathe. These include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which show up as soot that covers the interior of the appliance and perhaps also your windows and other surfaces within the room. When a pregnant woman inhales air tainted with this soot, these by-products may impact the brain development of the fetus to such an extent that its future intellectual development may suffer adverse effects.

About the Author

Sylvia Cochran is a regular contributor to DexKnows, specializing in home and garden.

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