The Hidden Danger of Chimney Ownership: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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It happens all the time, people walk into a home that they want to buy and fall in love. Some fall in love with the open layout, the kitchen, bathrooms, or simply the fireplace. Having a fire to warm you on cold evenings and to highlight the visual design flow in a home is a beautiful thing. Many people enjoy the fireplace on a daily basis where others only use it occasionally. The downside to chimney ownership, however, is the fact that there could be danger lurking there. Here are a few things you need to know about the dangers lurking in the chimney and carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Lining Could Kill

The lining of chimneys can build up with creosote, dirt, and debris. These things become stuck to the interior and cause musty smells, and impurities to flow into the air in your home. If not properly cleared out, these things could cause problems for people with allergies or asthma.

Creosote buildup is the black tar-like substance that builds up on the inside of the chimney lining. It is also responsible for several hundred chimney fires each year because it is actually a very flammable byproduct of the burning process. Buildup of as little as 1/4 inch is considered dangerous and should be addressed by a certified chimney sweep.

The Carbon Monoxide Issue

When you light a fire, or even if you use a gas fireplace, you’re taking a risk that carbon monoxide will enter your home. For instance, if the chimney’s upper levels are blocked or don’t allow for the smoke to escape properly, that air will come back into the home in the form of smoke or carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide is much more deadly than inhaling smoke. It’s important to hire a professional to clean and inspect the chimney before you light the first fire of the year. Otherwise, you’re taking a risk on carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Worst Case Scenario

Inhaling carbon monoxide is dangerous to the point of being deadly. You may have to spend some time in the hospital to clear your lungs and make sure you don’t suffer any ill effects if the carbon monoxide poisoning is caught in time. It is recommended that all homes be equipped with at least one carbon monoxide detector along with smoke alarms in specific areas of the home.

Batteries and Inspections

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that a regularly used chimney be inspected and swept at least twice per year. Plan to change the batteries in the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector at the same time the first inspection of the year takes place. That way you are sure to have the inspection, cleaning, and fresh, new batteries protecting you for future fires in the fireplace.

Lou Curley’s Chimney Service is located in Delaware County and we serve the Main Line area. Ask about our monthly deals on chimney cleaning, inspection, and other services throughout the year. We’re currently running a special for August – $20 off of a chimney cleaning. We will be offering another great deal for customers who call us during the month of September.

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