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A deadly toxic gas that can enter your home if you have venting problems with your chimney or other heating unit, carbon monoxide is responsible for killing over 400 Americans by unintentional poisoning annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), carbon monoxide poisoning also sends over 20,000 people to the emergency room, and more than 4,000 people end up having to be hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Known as the “silent killer” (you cannot see or smell it), carbon monoxide makes it very important to have your chimney inspected annually to ensure your chimney system is venting properly.
Our Chimney Safety Institute of America-certified technicians, who are experienced with solving carbon monoxide issues, would like to tell you more about this toxic gas that can silently enter your home and cause serious health damage:
Headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, weakness, chest pain, and confusion are all symptoms of low-level carbon monoxide poisoning. Since these symptoms are so similar to the flu or the common cold, carbon monoxide poisoning can be difficult to diagnose. If you persist in having these symptoms, ask your doctor for a carbon monoxide level blood test. High-level symptoms include organ damage, loss of consciousness and death.
For some reason, your red blood cells would rather pick up carbon monoxide than oxygen. If there is a lot of carbon monoxide in the air, your body may replace all of the oxygen in your blood with carbon monoxide, blocking oxygen from entering your body, causing tissue damage and resulting, possibly, in death. Tissues can also be destroyed by carbon monoxide teaming up with the proteins in tissues.
Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected by a reputable chimney company like Lords Chimney every year. If you are purchasing a gas fireplace, be sure it carries the seal of a national testing group, such as the CSA Group. If your heat ever goes out, never use a portable flameless chemical heater indoors. Although they do not have a flame, they do burn gas and can cause carbon monoxide to build up inside your house. Most importantly, install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home, and check and/or replace the batteries when you reset your clocks in the spring and fall.
Firstly, never burn anything in a fireplace that is not vented. Secondly, never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or anything else, which could cause carbon monoxide to build up more quickly. Thirdly, your indoor vent pipes should go up slightly as they go towards the outside. This helps prevent toxic gases from leaking if the joints or pipes are not fitted properly.
If you have any more questions about carbon monoxide, contact us today. Our experienced staff can answer whatever else you need to know about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Trust Your Home to Professionals
Homeowners often have such an overloaded list of what needs to be cared for that often times they overlook the most important places. Fireplaces and chimneys are usually included since they are only used for a portion of the year. If you have fallen into this category, don’t burn yourself out on figuring out how you will handle the situation. There is actually little to be done and the professionals at Lords Chimney can handle it all. In a short amount of time they can have your yearly chimney sweep and inspection finished so you can be on with the rest of your busy schedule.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America
It is important that you hire chimney care that is both professional and CSIA certified, or meets the standards of the Chimney Safety Institute of America. These chimney sweeps and businesses are reliable and can be found a variety of ways, including asking around your community or online. As with any service you want your chimney technicians to be the best.
The In’s and Out’s
So, what is the importance of a chimney sweep? To start, they remove built up creosotes that could potentially start a fire or cause a blockage where smoke would remain inside of the home. If you breathe enough of this smoke you can get Carbon Monoxide poisoning. A chimney sweep can also remove any blockages that an animal may have caused. With the inspection the technicians can make sure the chimney is in working order. What you may think of as no big deal may be a danger to your family and your home, even if it is something as small as a broken tile or brick. If there is a crack, they will continue to grow until they are fixed. Water can then get in and begin to mold, and when not taken care of spread to the rest of your home. If the unit is broken it may not heat correctly which is not only unsafe but may cost you more to operate. It is important that this procedure is done once a year at the beginning of the season, and even if you have no problem getting in small, dirty places, you should still hire a certified professional.
Chimney Inspections and What They Cover
It is highly recommended that homeowners have their chimneys inspected on an annual basis. Having a professional come in to look at the chimney is the best way to spot any potential hazards before they endanger the household. Before finding an inspector to do the job, it is important to understand exactly what should be included in an annual inspection.
One of the first things that a chimney inspector will look at is the structural integrity of the chimney itself. Over time, a chimney can become damaged or weak, especially if there is excessive exposure to rain and snow. They will make sure that the actual structure is still strong and does not pose any risks to the rest of the home.
In addition to looking over the general structure of the chimney, the inspector will look at the individual parts. This will include an inspection of the flue liner and damper, among other important elements. They will be able to tell the homeowner whether any individual parts of their chimney require maintenance or repair. Remember, it is necessary for all parts of the chimney to be in good working condition in order for it to function safely.
A chimney inspector will be able to tell whether there is a buildup of creosote in the chimney. Creosote is the substance left behind after treated wood and coal have been used for making a fire in the fireplace. It can pose a number of different risks, including internal illness and irritations to the skin and eyes. It is also highly flammable, so a home with a buildup of the material is at a greater risk for a chimney fire than those who have it inspected and cleaned.
During a chimney inspection, there may also be evidence of material clogging the chimney. In many cases, this is the result of animals that have made their home in the flue. A clogged chimney is a serious problem because it prevents smoke and gas from exiting the home the way they are supposed to. As a result, a chimney fire could ignite or the family inside of the home could become ill when they are exposed to the gasses.
It takes specialized training and experience to properly and thoroughly inspect a chimney. The Chimney Safety Institute of America is the organization that trains and certifies all qualified chimney technicians. It is necessary to only use a CSIA certified inspector in order to get the most reliable results. The CSIA website offers a useful tool to help find a qualified technician in the area.
To some homeowners, a chimney inspection just seems like an extra chore and an unnecessary expense. However, an annual inspection is the only way to make sure that the chimney is in good working condition and not putting the home — or your family at risk. Be sure to use a chimney inspector who has been trained and certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America in order to get the best results.