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Carbon Monoxide and Its Dangers

When you are enjoying the fire from your fireplace, stove, or insert, you most likely give little thought to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. However, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) states that every year over 200 people in the United States die from carbon monoxide poisoning due to the toxic gas entering their homes due to venting problems or leaks in their heating or chimney system. Furthermore, 10,000 cases of illnesses due to carbon monoxide poisoning are reported every year. Luckily, proper maintenance of your chimney, including an annual chimney sweep and inspection from a company like All Seasons Chimney with CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, can prevent any possible carbon monoxide poisoning incidents from happening to you and your family in your home.

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What exactly does carbon monoxide do to your body?

Too much carbon monoxide in your bloodstream will kill you, and low levels of exposure to carbon monoxide over a period of time can cause many health problems. The danger lies in the fact that when carbon monoxide is present in the air, the protein hemoglobin in your blood would rather latch on to it and ignore life-giving oxygen. When this happens, your body will replace oxygen with carbon monoxide, and this causes greater or lesser levels of your cells suffocating, depending on the duration and intensity of the exposure to carbon monoxide. Low-level exposure to carbon dioxide includes some very serious side effects like permanent organ and brain damage. People with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly, infants, and people with breathing issues, are in more danger to carbon monoxide exposure. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the common cold and flu, so it can be a long and frustrating process to diagnose the true problem. If you continue to suffer from headaches, fatigue, or even depression, ask your doctor to check your blood levels of carbon monoxide.

How does carbon monoxide form in my chimney?

As a by-product of combustion, carbon monoxide can be found in both gas and wood-burning fireplaces, stoves, and furnaces. When the combustion process is incomplete, more carbon dioxide is formed. Restricted air flow caused by closed fireplace doors, an unopened damper, or a flue blockage results in incomplete combustion as not enough oxygen is able to get in to completely burn the fuel.

How does carbon monoxide leak into my house from my chimney?

Several factors can result in this toxic gas leaking into your home. A damaged or deteriorated flue liner allows carbon monoxide to seep through its cracks into your living space. All Seasons Chimney can easily take care of this problem by restoring a damaged flue liner or even by replacing your old liner with a new stainless steel liner. Other causes of carbon monoxide entering your home include debris clogs, soot and creosote build-up, and animal or birds nests obstructing the chimney flue.

How can I prevent carbon monoxide from entering my house?

The best prevention against carbon monoxide leaks is an annual chimney sweeping and inspection from a CSIA-certified chimney sweep. All Seasons Chimney will ensure your venting system and flue liner are in good shape, and if not, we provide chimney repair services to fine-tune your chimney so that it works efficiently and safely. We also recommend you install carbon monoxide detector alarms throughout your home in case you do experience a carbon monoxide leak. These alarms can save your life!

If you have any more questions about the dangers of carbon monoxide, contact All Seasons Chimney. Our staff will be happy to answer them as well as schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection to ensure your home is free from this dangerous toxic gas.

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

With the official start of winter only a few days away, everyone has already started up their heating appliances this time of year. From wood stoves to fireplaces, these heating systems are probably running right now due to the chilly temperatures that the lower Hudson Valley area has seen this year so far. While these units work hard to keep us warm in the winter, they also come with some risks. One of the most dangerous hazards is known as carbon monoxide.

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Any time combustion occurs, tiny molecules of carbon monoxide form in high concentrations. Fuels of any kind can produce carbon monoxide, as long as combustion takes place. Therefore, charcoal grills, wood stoves, lanterns and car exhausts all release carbon monoxide into the air. For this reason, each of these appliances should never be used inside without properly venting it, like a wood stove with a chimney. Otherwise, the space can fill quickly with carbon monoxide and you may not realize it until it is too late. Carbon monoxide has no color, smell or taste, so the only way to know it is present is with a special carbon monoxide detector. Relying on the detector and its batteries has its own risks, so the best way to prevent danger is by keeping your heating appliances serviced and up to date.

Carbon monoxide poisoning becomes evident with issues like shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea and even unconsciousness. Eventually, the organs will begin to fail and death could ensue if the body receives no fresh air. At the very first sign of poisoning, you must move everyone from the space to an open outdoor area, and then call for emergency help from there. Failure to remove yourself from the enclosed space could result in unconsciousness, which makes survival much less likely.

This tiny molecule deserves respect and must be treated as the large health threat that it is. Maintaining your fireplace and stove is a good start to avoiding the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Every time the fireplace or stove burns, it continuously emits carbon monoxide. For this reason, it is imperative that the chimney is free of any obstructions. Built up creosote or even animals and nests can stop or dangerously slow the movement of vapors in the chimney, so have a chimney expert out at least once every year to sweep and inspect the chimney. Also ask to have a chimney cap installed to prevent animals from nesting inside the chimney. Another good measure to take is burning only well seasoned wood, which cuts down on the production of creosote, the thick and tarry material that can build up in the chimney.

Protect your home and family from the dangers of carbon monoxide. Simply have your local chimney specialist sweep and inspect your chimney at least once every year. If you live in the lower Hudson Valley area, trust your chimney to All Seasons Chimney. These professionals can help ensure a warm, safe home this winter.