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Wood Smoke and Asthma/Allergy Sufferers

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Gridlock, Mar 3, 2010.

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  1. Gridlock

    Gridlock Member

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    Loc:
    New Paltz, NY
    My girlfriend has asthma and allergies, and complains about the wood smoke from the stove affecting her breathing. I try as best as I can to minimize any smoke when reloading the stove, but a little usually makes it way into the room. I use a HEPA filter in the bedroom when we go to sleep, but the room the stove is in is large with a two story ceiling, which is too large for my HEPA filter. The problem seems to be exacerbated by the fact that the forced air central heating system (which has an air filter) rarely comes on now that I use the wood stove 24x7. I then remembered that the fan for the central heating system can be switched to the 'on' position as opposed to 'auto' which will make it run continuously. Doing this really seemed to help tremendously; the smokey smell disappears quickly and my girlfriend can breath more easily. The problem is that the fan draws 9-10 amps which somewhat reduces the advantage (from an expense point of view) of heating with the wood stove instead of with the propane whole house system.

    How do you folks with asthma or allergies to smoke deal with this? If you use your central heating system to filter the air, what filter do you use? I am currently using a 3M Filtrete Maximum Allergen Filter (1700 rating), but don't know if this level of filtration is necessary, and there are many Filtrete alternatives.

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  2. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    Oct 13, 2009
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    South West, VA
    I feel for you. The stove I am using spills smoke quite a bit and I've begun getting headaches. I have another stove on the way and hopefully the problem will be greatly minimized. I've known people with breathing problems who just stay away from wood stoves. I don't know what you can do. Any kind of filtering would be done by sucking air, which would also suck your heat with it, if not just the air flow the stove wants to function correctly. I would imagine the best fitler necessary for your system. But like you say, electricity starts to cancel the financial benefit of burning wood.
  3. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Oct 17, 2008
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    Milton GA
    My 4 year old has some allergy related issues. The smoke is not an issue as much as the ash and dust produced. Like you, we are not circulating the HVAC blower to bring the air thru the filter. My son stays on singular and inhalers. We try to dust alot.
  4. ChillyGator

    ChillyGator New Member

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    Feb 20, 2009
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    Loc:
    NorthFlorida
    Gridlock, you may just need to buy another HEPA filter for the living room that is big enough. I also run one in my bedroom and have been thinking about getting another one for the living room where my stove lives. I rarely get smoke spillage but it does happen if I get in a hurry.

    REF1: I think you have a draft problem and I would like to try that Homestead with my chimney if you're coming to Floirda any time soon :coolsmile:
  5. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    Michigan
    I have allergies and a slight case of asthma. My allergies are seasonal type allergies that can aggravate my asthma. I've only had a down right asthma attack a couple times in my life. My wife has similar allergies to me so we were both worried at first about the stove. We've both been extremely happy with the stove to this point. Very seldom do we get smoke in the house and when it happens it's usually just a quick wisp when I tinker with the stove too long on a reload. Some of the Lopi stoves have a bypass which goes a long way towards eliminating smoke spillage on reloads. As stated above the ash/dust is a bigger problem then the smoke for me. I have that down pretty good now. I take a scoop with the shovel and only pull the lid on the ash bucket back enough to fit the shovel in then close the lid over the bucket till the dust settles before taking another scoop. It takes a little while but goes a long way to cutting down on the dust/ash.
  6. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    S.NH- Mass's smoking section
    Open the air on the stove all the way for a few seconds before opening the door. Unlatch and open it just a crack for a few more secs before opening- this greatly reduces smoke spillage.

    For me- filling the stove all the way when starting it gets it going faster than any other method, and it means that I don't get a little fire going... open the door... add kindling... open the door... load it up- less door opening, less issues. If you want more details please ask.

    Of course very dry wood and a clean flue are also keys in reducing smoke issues.
  7. r_d_gard

    r_d_gard Member

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    Loc:
    Maryland - USA
    My Son and Daughter have Cystic Fibrosis (a chronic illness that effects the lungs) and due to a severe lack of common sense we put in a wood burning stove (VC 2550 Cat) where we have had several smokey light ups and several times where the CAT wasn't turned off before filling it up. I'm a new burner so I chalk it down to learning. Yet as the season has progressed I have become a better burner and now it can get away with zero emmissions entering the house. When we did have a dumping of smoke in the house I would turn on the Centeral AC Blower (which has the highest grade particulate filter I can find to filter out the smoke particles) and the kids would head to a room where the smoke doesn't get to.
  8. Shari

    Shari Minister of Fire

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    +1 with every thing stated above!

    No problems with the Oslo using the above method. Burning with the fireplace my doctor wanted me to go visit with an ENT specialist because of problems I was having. Since the Oslo has been installed I have no more symptoms.

    Shari
  9. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    My allergies are much better at home with the stove than at the office with the forced air. However, this is one of the reasons we will eventually get away from the stove and go to a boiler. How is the humidity in the house? I can usually tell when the kettle on the stove needs to be refilled.
  10. Ratherbfishin

    Ratherbfishin Member

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    Loc:
    Southern tier NY
    I have Asthma but my stove really does not put smoke out into our living room, The only times so far I have had issues breathing is when I fall asleep next to the stove. I cant breath very good when I wake up and have to use the inhaler a few times. That could be because of the dry heat even though there is a kettle of water on the stove. The ash when I clean it hasn't been an issue yet but those dust masks you can get at Lowes or HD should help for those of you who are sensitive to the ash and dust.
  11. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    My wife claims to be affected by the stove. I take great care not to let smoke into the room. Just exposing the inside of the opened glass door to the room will release some smell. When I use the poker, it will have a bit of creosote smell to it too.

    My chimney is a little short so draft is marginal. The stove has an OAK so if there is any negative pressure, the OAK will push smoke into the room. I open a window before opening the stove.

    I try not to let the fire die down too far to where the draft is reduced. If the stove is only opened when the fire is down to coals, there is little or no smoke. What gets me in trouble is if the stove is not loaded well and the door needs to be opened to adjust the load. Sometimes I will open the door just a crack to shove the poker in to adjust the load.

    I have a 650 CFM blower on my stove and run all the air across a 3M Filtrete filter. I have a 3M Filtrete filter on the furnace as well which also runs at some point every day. The 3M filter is not HEPA class and being on the cold return will not keep particulate out of the air. It won't remove smoke and only remove a small amount of dander.

    I think part of my wife's problem is lack of humidity. There is a humidifier on the furnace but the furnace doesn't run long enough to keep the humidity up. I also have a HRV that is exchanging the air constantly and it removes humidity. I've suggested a HEPA filter and humidifier for the bedroom but the wife doesn't want the noise and has the notion that "conditioned" air is bad.
  12. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Allenton, Wisconsin
    My son has allergies so we never put wood in the house. Wood has mold and bugs and mouse urine on it. Nasty stuff for a kid with asthsma.
  13. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    South West, VA
    I just found out my wife's allergies would be killing her if she weren't taking allergy pills every day. Man, I had no idea till I mentioned this thread to her. So, we REALLY need a stove change. Hopefully the Fusion will work better for us.
  14. oconnor

    oconnor Minister of Fire

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    I had a lot of smoke spillage issues in year one, and most of that went away when I got my wood earlier and seasoned it better, and I started to burn hotter fires. Less spillage inside and way less smoke outside.
  15. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    The style of chimney (and cap) you have can be a large factor with smoke spillage as well.

    For example, I was leery about getting rid of my Fisher and purchasing my NC30 because my buddy who has one has a house that just plain reeks of smoke smell. With my fisher, no guest who came into my home ever guessed I was burning wood until they actually saw it because there was zero odor. I was very interested in upgrading to the more effecient stove but would not stand for a house that smelled like smoke. As a result, I kept my fisher for 3 months of burning with the Englader just to be certain everything would be fine. In the end, I found that I had no smoke smell with this stove either. I told my smelly friend about this and suggested that he add another section of pipe to his chimney to improve his draft. That one extra section of smoke has made it so he too has no smoke smell and also is able to close the primary air control on his stove further than ever before w/out smoldering the fire.

    Point is, draft is very important and can make a huge difference.
    pen
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