Chimneys add lovely grace to most home styles. Many historic homes and castles had multiple chimneys because each individual bedroom or dressing area had its own chimney. Essentially, the larger the home, the more fireplaces were required to maintain warmth. Imagine keeping all of those clean each year! Today I’m going to go over potential dangers that every homeowner with a chimney should be aware of.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The silent killer. Carbon monoxide is absolutely colorless, absolutely without smell or any other indication to its presence. And it is very deadly. Low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning may look like flu symptoms, or like you’re just getting a bad cold. Prolonged exposure leads to vomiting, headaches, and eventual death.
Carbon monoxide tricks the human body into thinking it is oxygen. In fact, the body will choose carbon monoxide over oxygen if both are present. Carbon monoxide travels everywhere within the body after it is inhaled. Children are very susceptible to brain damage following exposure to relatively low amounts of carbon monoxide.
Creosote is the primary cause of chimney fires. It forms as a natural result of cooling smoke and condensation. The condensation is attracted to the inside of the flue where particles of unburned wood collect and create the thick, gummy substance. Chimney fires often burn unnoticed until they have created quite a problem with the flue and chimney. They may sound like a light wind or a low-flying aircraft, depending on the intensity of the flame.
The flue is designed to protect the surrounding structure from intense heat. In the event of a chimney fire, the flue may become damaged and allow extreme heat to penetrate the masonry and catch the wooden support structure ablaze. The resulting fire is often a total loss.
Mortar chimneys can only withstand so much pressure, and if they’re never maintained, they’re susceptible to cracking, chipping, and collapse. Chimney collapse puts the entire structure of the home in danger of collapse due to the sheer weight of the chimney structure itself.
Reduce the Likelihood of Chimney Hazards
Dangers posed by chimneys can be greatly reduced in likelihood by simply scheduling a yearly inspection and cleaning. Yearly maintenance is your best defense against these dangers. I won’t guarantee that an inspection and cleaning will prevent these hazards, but they do indeed reduce the likelihood of their occurrence.
Schedule your yearly chimney inspection for the same date each year, that way you don’t forget. Make the time to schedule next year’s appointment while the chimney sweep is at your home this year. Take the time to also change your smoke alarm batteries, carbon monoxide detector batteries, and batteries to any other safety device within your home on the same day as your chimney inspection so that everything is taken care of simultaneously.