Having a fireplace in your home during the coldest months of the year is great for ambiance and heat. However, it’s important for homeowners to remember that fireplaces are not zero maintenance fixtures. Chimney systems are intricate and must be in good working order for proper ventilation. When a fire is lit, it releases dangerous byproducts and if your chimney isn’t venting properly, these dangerous gasses can enter your home.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas, which is one of the things that make it so dangerous. When CO enters a home, the occupants are often poisoned before they even know the gas is present. Very young and elderly people, as well as those who are chronically ill, are the most likely to become sick, with 400 deaths annually from unintentional CO poisoning.

If you have a fireplace in your home, it is important to be familiar with the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. It often presents much like the flu, with headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting and sometimes chest pain and confusion.

Breathing CO can cause loss of consciousness, which is especially dangerous for people who are already sleeping or intoxicated because they may pass out without feeling any of the warning signs. One red flag for CO poisoning is if all occupants of the home come down with the same symptoms at the same time. Even low-level exposure from something like a chimney leak can be dangerous over time, causing irreversible organ and brain damage.

The good news is that Carbon Monoxide poisoning is highly preventable. With routine chimney sweeps and annual inspections, a certified chimney sweep will be able to find any issues before they cause problems for your family. In addition to pointing out necessary repairs, a chimney sweep can make recommendations for any draft problems that may increase CO exposure. For example, keeping and maintaining a proper flue liner prevents gases and heat from transferring into your home.

It is also important that your home has CO detectors, and that you routinely check the batteries to make sure they’re working. If you have concerns about CO poisoning in your home, you should leave the premises and call your local fire department and then call us immediately at 610-626-2439 to have the chimney and fireplace inspected.

Both of the chimney sweeps here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service are CSIA Certified and we hold other certifications as well. Visit our home page to see a list of our certifications. We’re fully trained and prepared to handle any issue regarding your chimney or fireplace.