The winter months are drawing to a close, and spring soon will be upon us. If you have failed to have your chimney cleaned and inspected, you may assume that it’s too late, now that the fire-burning season is drawing to a close. However, it’s never too late to have your chimney cleaned!
In fact, the end of the burning season can be the perfect time for your annual and inspection! A spring chimney cleaning can reduce your risk of a chimney fire, carbon monoxide poisoning, and chimney damage.
Reduce your risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning
A spring chimney sweeping will clear out any of the creosote from this year’s fires. A buildup of highly flammable creosote is the leading cause of chimney fires, meaning that cleaning it out of your chimney drastically reduces your risk of a chimney fire. Blockages in your chimney, whether from creosote, animal nests or other debris, also can prevent carbon monoxide from exiting your fireplace, putting your family at risk from a deadly buildup of the gas within your home.
Additionally, the soot and creosote left in your chimney is highly corrosive. If you wait until the fall to have your chimney cleaned after the previous burning season, you’re allowing those corrosive materials to break down the inner walls of your chimney. A buildup of creosote also can have intrusive side effects — creosote can leave an unpleasant smell in your house during the warm, humid summer months. A cleaning and inspection at the end of the burning season is especially important if you have a pellet-burning appliance: Trapped pellets can swell in summer’s humidity, causing damage to your stove or fireplace.
Identify and address chimney damage
A spring chimney sweeping and inspection also identifies any water or fire damage your chimney endured during the fire burning season, giving you the opportunity to address it before it becomes a major issue. If you have your chimney inspected now and damage is found, that gives you plenty of time to determine the best way to approach repairs and have those repairs performed before you’re ready to use it again next fall.
Remember, any chimney damage, from water leaks to crumbing masonry, should be addressed as soon as it is identified. If minor damage is ignored, it can lead to major, expensive repairs in the future. And failing a failing chimney also can put your home at risk of a chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you live around Sacramento, CA, and you’re overdue for your chimney sweeping and inspection, or if you prefer to have your chimney swept at the end of the fire-burning season, give the certified chimney sweeps at A to Z Chimney Services a call to schedule an appointment. It’s never too late for your annual chimney cleaning!
Your chimney liner is one of the most critical components of the entire chimney system. According to the CSIA, problems in your chimney’s flue can present serious risks to your home and family, as it is no longer able to perform its primary function: to safely contain and vent the byproducts of the combustion process to the outside of your home.
Call the CSIA certified professionals at A to Z Chimney Services for more information about chimney liners, or to have one installed or repaired by our experts. Give us a ring today at (916) 850-2446 or used our contact form to speak with us.
How A to Z Chimney Services Handles Carbon Monoxide (CO)
At A to Z Window Screen, Chimney Sweep & Dryer Vent Cleaning a big part of the reason we love doing the work we do is that we enjoy the sense of purpose we get from protecting our customers from grave dangers like house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Not only are we helping our customers in and around Lincoln, California, have cleaner, more efficient, more enjoyable heating appliances, but we also are able to guard and educate our customers. For instance, many of our customers are surprised to find that the clothes dryer duct is a common source of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Two of the dangers we most often look for and help our customers prevent are house/chimney fires and carbon monoxide intrusion, which can be almost impossible to detect. Various problems within both the clothes dryer and the chimney may cause carbon monoxide to vent inside your home instead of outside it. Chimneys, fireplaces, and furnaces can become dangerous if their flue (or vent) is improperly sized, blocked, disconnected, leaking, or back drafting. Sometimes we find that homeowners simply don’t know how to operate their heating appliance properly—for instance, not understanding how or when to open and close the damper. These types of venting problems are responsible for hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries in the United States each year. We take pride in knowing that we help our customers live more safely and confidently, knowing that they can enjoy their fireplace or furnace without worry.
How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
While carbon monoxide detectors do a great job of alerting homeowners to the presence of carbon monoxide, we firmly believe that prevention is far more ideal. Annual inspections of your chimney, fireplace, and dryer duct will go a long way toward protecting you from the potential for carbon monoxide to accumulate in your home.
Why do you want to prevent carbon monoxide from being in your home? Simply put, it is deadly—all the more so because it’s impossible to smell, smell, or taste. Furthermore its symptoms can be deceptively flu-like, so that many people suffering from low-level exposure are misdiagnosed with the flu, or even seasonal depression. Two notable differences between flu sufferers and those sickened by carbon monoxide: the absence of a fever and glandular swelling. To better understand what happens to the body when exposed to carbon monoxide, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s FAQs page on Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.
Only a pro will be able to alert you to potential dangers, but you may see some signs that your chimney or dryer vent is not venting correctly. With regard to your chimney, its important to pay attention to draft issues as a chimney that is “back drafting” may very well pull carbon monoxide, as well as smoke and soot, into your home. And if you’ve noticed that your dryer is taking longer than usual to dry clothes, it may very well be clogged by dust and dirt, which poses a fire hazard and prevents it from venting properly. Professional cleanings and tune-ups of both your chimney and dryer duct can generally alleviate any concerns about the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Common Causes of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in the Home
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, chimneys and dryers are but two of the sources of carbon monoxide leaks in the home. Homes with gas stoves and ranges may be particularly vulnerable, as average levels of carbon monoxide in homes without gas stoves vary from 0.5 to 5 parts per million (ppm). Meanwhile, levels near properly adjusted gas stoves are often 5 to 15 ppm, while those near poorly adjusted stoves may be 30 ppm or higher. Other carbon monoxide poisoning culprits include:
Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters
Back-drafting from gas water heaters and gas stoves
Generators and other gasoline powered equipment inside the home or garage
Incomplete oxidation during combustion in gas ranges
Unvented gas or kerosene heaters
Worn or poorly adjusted boilers and furnaces
Auto, truck, or bus exhaust from attached garages, nearby roads, or parking areas
If you suspect that your chimney or clothes dryer is not venting correctly, please contact us today. One of our certified technicians will get out to your home as soon as possible to inspect it for the presence of carbon monoxide or assess any problems within your vents.
Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a toxic gas that is colorless and odorless gas that can cause illness or death. Carbon monoxide is released during any type of combustion or fire. In and enclosed space, any type of burning or combustion, such as that from a gasoline engine, can quickly build up to toxic levels. CO is emitted from stoves, fireplaces, gas ranges, lanterns, or any type of open flame or combustion is occurring.
Carbon monoxide is emitted from stoves, fireplaces, gas ranges, lanterns, or any type of open flame or combustion is occurring. CO then enters the lungs and bonds with the blood cells, thereby preventing true oxygen, O2, from entering the bloodstream. During your annual inspection, a certified sweep will check for any obstructions in your chimney.
The United States Centers for Disease Control name these symptoms as possible carbon monoxide poisoning:
Symptoms are similar to other illnesses, so it is important to be examined by a medical professional. They can perform simple tests to confirm or rule out carbon monoxide poisoning.
The first step in prevention is Carbon Monoxide detectors. Every home needs one, even if you do not heat your home with gas or open flame. Most modern smoke detectors also have a carbon monoxide detector, but always make sure. If you are unsure about your detectors or look old, replace them with ones for sure that do. There are even separate carbon monoxide detectors that can be placed in other areas, like garages or other enclosed spaces, which will give a good sound warning when levels are reaching toxic levels.
The second step in prevention is using carbon monoxide common sense and follow these steps:
Have your heating system, water heater, or any other burning appliance inspected and serviced every year
Ensure your chimney damper opens properly and free and your chimney system is inspected and serviced every year
Ensure all burning appliances are vented properly and not level. Vent pipes should move uphill and never be parallel to the ground.
Never patch a vent pipe with gum, tape, or other material
Do not use flameless chemical or catalytic heaters indoors. These release CO.
In case of a power outage, follow these steps for proper fire and carbon monoxide safety:
Never use a gas range or oven for room heating
Never use a charcoal grill indoors
Never use a portable gas camp stove indoors
Never use a generator indoors, a basement, a garage, or near a window, door, or vent. Outside is the only safe place for a generator.
Always use flame type heaters in a well-ventilated area or with a properly working CO monitor.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is as dangerous to health as fire and should be treated seriously and can be prevented with these few simple steps. Visit the Center for Disease Control for more information.