When your fire is burning, your chimney is working to vent it safely and efficiently. If your chimney fails to vent the hazardous gases, smoke, and particulate pollution up the chimney, it is forced into your home. This can become a dangerous health emergency very quickly, and result in severe health issues.
The Silent Killer
Carbon monoxide is often called ‘the silent killer’ due to its invisibility and lack of odor. Sudden or prolonged exposure to this poisonous gas can cause a person to become ill, exhibiting symptoms such as those from a common cold or flu. Over time, it can cause permanent damage and eventual organ failure which results in death. It is especially dangerous because an entire family can be affected without anyone realizing they’ve had a carbon monoxide exposure.
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), there are about 10,000 reports of carbon monoxide-related injuries each year. Over 200 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning due to inadequate ventilation. This number should and could be 0. With early detection, a family should be able to evacuate a house before any serious injury has occurred. If you use a fireplace, stove, or insert in your home, you should have a carbon monoxide detector installed and check the batteries regularly. This little device may save your life and the life of those you love.
Carbon monoxide may not be seeping into your home by way of damaged chimney parts. Your problem may be a simple ventilation problem. You can troubleshoot your chimney’s function by cracking a window on the other side of your house and shutting off large appliances that may compete for air in your home. Keeping your chimney clean and functional can also prevent carbon monoxide intrusion. An efficient chimney will pull the air, gas, and smoke directly up the chimney and safely out of the house.
To help your chimney work more efficiently:
- Burn proper wood in the fireplace.
- Never close the damper with the fire burning.
- Never vent other appliances into your chimney system or discharge the vented gases into an attic or crawlspace. The chimney must vent outdoors.
- Keep a carbon monoxide detector in your home, one per floor, and make sure batteries are replaced regularly.
Pay attention to symptoms:
- Vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea
- Body aches
- Neurological and psychiatric disturbances
Detection is Key
What can begin as an upset stomach and headache can result in something as serious as cerebral edema (swollen brain). In fact, cerebral edema is a common result of carbon monoxide poisoning, but routine treatment is not effective after a poisoning of this kind. The best way to prevent permanent damage is early detection. Have your chimney inspected annually so that you know the parts of your chimney that prevent carbon monoxide intrusion are working properly. Schedule routine chimney sweeps to clean your flue and keep it venting properly. Install detectors and make sure they work. Pay attention to symptoms and do not stay in a house that is filling with smoke.
If your chimney is smoky and you’ve tried troubleshooting, it is time to call a professional. Call West Texas Chimney and Venting Solutions today at (806) 358-0817.