Carbon monoxide is often called the silent killer because you can’t see it, hear it, or smell it. A carbon monoxide detector is the only way to know if you have dangerous levels of it in your home. By the time most people recognize the symptoms as more than simply not feeling well, it’s often too late to avoid some consequences. Approximately 10,000 people become sick each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning, and more than 200 people die from it.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Frequent Headaches
Carbon monoxide poisoning is on the rise in the United States due, in part, to efforts put forth to reduce energy costs. Homes are built to higher standards so they’re more airtight. Homeowners make every effort to seal windows and doors to prevent heat from escaping during winter months. Our obsession with creating a more energy efficient home leaves few areas for fresh air to enter the home and for stale or polluted air to escape.
Oxygen is required for fireplaces, boilers, and furnaces to properly burn wood or other materials. Think back to your grade school science for a moment – a fire needs oxygen, fuel, and heat. Remove either of those elements, and the fire cannot be sustained. Lack of the required amount of oxygen is what creates carbon monoxide.
When smoke, gas, and particles cannot properly escape the chimney, creosote is formed in the flue. It will continue to build up and hinder the effectiveness of the chimney until it is removed. The buildup of debris in the flue can lead to a partial blockage that will result in more gases being allowed into the home. Regular chimney maintenance to keep the flue clean will go a long way in preventing carbon monoxide poisoning.
Older chimneys may be improperly sized to meet the demands of today’s energy efficient gas furnaces and fireplaces. These high efficiency appliances produce cooler exhaust and contain higher amounts of water vapor, which create more condensation than less efficient models. This creates an obstruction over time and allows carbon monoxide to enter the home.
The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), U.S. Environmental Protection Association (EPA), the American Lung Association, and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommend regular cleaning and maintenance of home heating systems and the chimneys that service them. Make sure to schedule your chimney inspection and cleaning for the same date each year so it doesn’t slip your mind.
Lou Curley’s Chimney Service provides all types of chimney services to homeowners, renters, and commercial property owners in Delaware County and along the Main Line. Call us any time to schedule a consultation and we’ll help you keep the silent killer out of your home.