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The Chimney and Carbon Monoxide Dangers

A chimney’s job is to exhaust combustion gases from your home. However, when a chimney gets excessively dirty or clogged (by any number of things—debris and animal nests are common culprits), when your chimney damper is closed, or a part of your chimney is broken that prevents carbon monoxide and other combustion byproducts from venting, then you and your family may become at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. When carbon monoxide can’t access the outside of your home through your chimney it will “backdraft” into your home.

Carbon monoxide can put you and your family in harm's way. Be sure to have your chimneys inspected and swept to avoid such accidents.

Carbon monoxide can put you and your family in harm’s way. Be sure to have your chimneys inspected and swept to avoid such accidents.

In high levels, carbon monoxide can become deadly within a matter of minutes, while low-level does can sicken people with flu-like symptoms. (Unlike the flu, carbon monoxide poisoning won’t cause a fever or glandular swelling.) Carbon monoxide poisoning is even sometimes mistaken as seasonal depression. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, [link to ] over 200 Americans die each year and 10,000 injuries are diagnosed—all from carbon monoxide poisoning related to venting problems with their heating systems.

The best way to prevent chimney-related carbon monoxide poisoning is to have your chimney inspected and swept annually. This is a recommendation shared by the Chimney Safety Institute of America, as well as most all other national fire safety organizations. A professional chimney cleaning can have many other benefits as well, including providing you with a safer, more efficient heating appliance that’s less likely to smoke in your home and create unpleasant odors. Beyond prevention, installing a carbon monoxide detector inside your home will be able to alert you to the presence of the deadly gas inside your home. Those of us at Basic Chimney Sweep & Repair are happy to inspect and clean your chimney so you can rest easy knowing you and your family are safe.

How Can I Tell If My Chimney Is Allowing Carbon Monoxide in My House?

Only a professional will be able to truly determine—via an inspection and/or cleaning —whether or not your chimney is allowing CO to vent into your home. Although many causes of chimney-related carbon monoxide poisoning are tucked away from view, there are sometimes visible signs that something may be amiss with your chimney, including:

  • Rust or water streaks on your vent or chimney
  • Loose chimney masonry
  • A loose or missing furnace panel
  • Loose or disconnected vent or chimney connections
  • Debris or soot inside your home or falling from your chimney, fireplace, or appliance
  • Moisture inside your windows
  • Internal appliance damage or malfunctioning components
  • Improper burner adjustment
  • Hidden blockage or damage in chimney

If you’ve noticed any of these issues with your heating appliance, call us right away to schedule an inspection.

Physical Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The trickiest part about this sometimes-deadly gas is that it can be very hard to detect, as it is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. This is why the call it “the silent killer.” Unfortunately, when our bodies are given the choice between carbon monoxide and oxygen, our blood protein hemoglobin will choose carbon monoxide over oxygen, replacing oxygen in our blood stream with carbon monoxide. Too much carbon monoxide in the blood will kill us.

Below are some of the physical symptoms that accompany low-level carbon monoxide poisoning. These are especially important to pay attention to during the colder months when you’re using your heating appliance:

  • Red coloration of the skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, or loss of consciousness
  • Fatigue or weakness, including muscle fatigue
  • Chest pain

It is important to note that CO poisoning symptoms manifest differently for each person.

Other Causes of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Did you know that your clothes dryer can also cause carbon monoxide to leak into the home? The best way to prevent this problem is to have your dryer vent professionally inspected and cleaned. This is a service we at Basic Chimney Sweep & Repair are happy to provide to our customers. A dryer vent cleaning will also help your clothes to dry quicker, which will cost you less energy dollars and may even prevent a dryer fire, as lint tends to get clogged in dryer ducts, especially when your dryer is located in the center of your home and the duct has to travel a long distance to vent outdoors.

Contact us today to schedule an inspection of your chimney and/or your dryer duct. Keep your family safe and put your mind at ease, all while helping your appliances run more efficiently.

Camera Investigation for Chimney Cleaning

The best way to approach cleaning anything is to know with what you are actually dealing. Grass stains are different than mechanical grease, and that is a different thing than cooking grease. The situation is the same inside your chimney, so a camera-assisted inspection by a certified sweep before and after cleaning is a really good idea.

Chimney Inspections with Cameras - Baton Rouge LA - Basic Chimney

Try This At Home….

What exists in the flue that cannot be seen from above or below determines how the chimney needs to be cleaned. Soot is different than later stage creosote, and they indicate different things as well, at least to professionals who understand them. The condition of mortar is important not only on the roof but within the chimney too, as is the ability to see and assess it.

Homeowners instinctively get this, but tend to trust in the uniformity of the chimney’s condition, which just should not be blindly relied upon. The safety of the whole house and family is at stake, so assumptions and risks just are not worth it. Once a year, the whole chimney needs to be visually inspected by a CSIA certified sweep who knows what he is looking at.

But Not By Yourself!

Routinely performed as part of cleanings and inspections by certified chimney sweeps, the practiced lowering of specially designed cameras reveals more than the obvious. Please note important words of caution here: If you do not know what you are doing, you can damage your flue. Even if you are lucky enough not to, your untrained eyes are likely to miss what could be early, cost-saving, warnings.

To spell it out a little more clearly, no homeowner should be lowering a cell phone on a string into a flue. This is serious work with serious consequences and it really needs to be handled by professionals. Knowing what you are getting out of the chimney is a great idea, but you should be using your phone to call a certified sweep.

By Ronald Caillais on April 12th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , | Leave a Comment

Why is Chimney Cleaning Important?

Your chimney is something that is going to need attention and effort to keep it clean. If you just bought the home, you may not be used to having one. Regardless, it is an important part of chimney ownership. Also, regular maintenance is going to prolong the usage of the appliance. No one wants to have to spend large amounts of money on chimney repairs, so when you think about the cost of a chimney inspection, remember that it is much more expensive to have to repair it down the road.

Besides the need to keep the chimney functioning properly, you also want to keep it working safely. Excessive buildup of creosote, as well as debris, can create a dangerous situation that just might result in a chimney fire. Since creosote is so flammable, you have to remember that any kind of buildup is dangerous. Also, leaves, branches, and animal nests are also likely to cause a fire. All it will take is one burning ember to climb up the chimney, and ignite whatever the obstruction is.

Another reason for regular chimney cleaning is the potential for odor problems. Chimneys that are not maintained become chimney that stink. All of that buildup, whatever the buildup might be, will inevitably cause the appliance to send foul odors down into your home. Honestly, who wants to deal with that? Just give us a call, and we will perform a chimney inspection and cleaning that will make your chimney start working the way it is supposed to.

It is important to remember that it is not a good idea to try an inspection yourself. Unless you have a trained eye, and the right equipment, you may not correctly spot the trouble areas that could be lurking. Give us a call, and we will thoroughly inspect your chimney. You will then be able to rest safely, knowing that your chimney appliance is working safely and efficiently.

By Ronald Caillais on July 27th, 2012 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment
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