Environmental Chimney Sweep Inc.

Basic Chimney Sweep & Repair Blog

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.

5 Reasons To Use a Chimney Cap

Keep It Covered

There are many homeowners who believe that they do not need a chimney cap. Although it may seem like an unnecessary addition or an accessory, there are many reasons that it is beneficial to use a chimney cap. Although the chimney can function without one, having one installed is the only way to prevent a number of common chimney problems.

The most common reason that people decide to get a chimney cap is because they have had an animal infestation in their chimney. If the chimney opening is left exposed, different types of rodents, birds, and small animals may build nests inside of the chimney. This is not only annoying, but it can be dangerous. The animals may clog the chimney and, in some cases, could carry diseases that spread into the home.

Chimney caps protect your chimney from animals, birds and debris. Any obstruction in your chimney compromises both safety and efficiency.

Chimney caps protect your chimney from animals, birds and debris. Any obstruction in your chimney compromises both safety and efficiency.

Another reason to have a chimney cap is to keep natural debris, such as leaves and twigs, from getting into the chimney. Like animal debris, these things can clog the chimney, which is far more dangerous than it may sound. If the chimney is clogged, it will keep smoke and combustible gasses in the home rather than letting them out. This can lead to any number of health risks as well as an increased risk of fire.

In addition to animals and leaves, it is important to keep excess moisture out of the chimney. This may come in the form of water or snow that gets in when there is not a chimney cap in place. Water in the chimney can cause many problems, ranging from mold to the deterioration of the structure itself. These issues can be quite serious but a chimney cap is a simple way to avoid them.

The chimney cap also helps to keep sparks inside of the chimney rather than letting them out. If sparks get out of the chimney, a breeze can quickly cause them to ignite. This will not only start a fire on the roof of the home in question but the fire could actually spread to other rooftops. This means that not only the home without the chimney cap but the entire neighborhood is put in harm’s way.

One of the most practical reasons for getting a chimney cap is that it prevents a draft. Without a chimney cap, cold air can come in from outside, especially when the fireplace is not in use. This forces the home’s heating system to work harder. As a result, the homeowners spend more money than necessary on energy each year, which is bad for both the budget and the environment.

A chimney cap may seem like an accessory but it actually serves many important functions for the home. It can help prevent any number of situations that can result in health and safety hazards as well as increased risk of fire. It is a small and simple piece that can make it easier for everyone to enjoy a fireplace safely.

Please call us at 828-243-0098 to schedule an appointment today. All Major Credit Cards Accepted.
National Chimney Sweeps Guild Chimney Safety Institute of America