Combustion Products: Reducing Risk

A few special precautions can help significantly reduce the risk of combustion products emanating from your smoke producing appliances, such as fireplaces, cookstoves, and space heaters.

Chimneys, Flues, and Furnaces

Damaged, blocked, or leaking flues and chimneys release toxic and potentially lethal combustion gases, carbon monoxide, and particles. Always strictly follow the service and maintenance schedule found in the manufacturer instructions, especially in regards to the frequency of changing your filter. At minimum, filters should be changed every 1-2 months during periods of use.

Proper maintenance is important in protecting against corrosion and leaking. For all chimneys, flues, furnaces, and other central air handling systems, make annual appointments for inspections. Pay special attention to, and immediately repair, any cracked or damaged parts.


In order to keep your woodstove emissions to a minimum, make sure that your stove meets EPA emissions standards and is properly sized for the space. Always use proper wood and ensure that all doors fit tightly.

Gas Cooking Stoves

There are two main steps to reducing the emission of pollutants from your gas cooking stoves and ranges. The first is to make sure that the exhaust fans are properly installed and used. Venting your fan to the outdoors can decrease the exposure of combustion products in your home. The second is to make sure that your burners are correctly adjusted. When buying a new stove, look for one with a pilot-less ignition. For older stoves, get your gas company to adjust the burner until the flame tip burns blue. A persistent yellow-tipped flame is a sign of improper adjustment and increased pollutant emissions. Gas stoves should never be used to heat your home.

Unvented space heaters

When operating unvented gas or kerosene space heaters, make sure to always read and follow the manufacturer’s directions, especially regarding the proper adjustment of the heater and use of fuel. When in use, always keep a door or window slightly open in order to ensure adequate airflow. For all space heaters, regularly check the color of the flame; a persistent yellow-tipped flame is a sign of maladjustment and increased pollutant emissions.

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