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.
Every chimney needs a fully-functional liner to usher the deadly byproducts of the combustion process from the home.
You need three things to create a fire — oxygen, fuel and heat. If one or more of these elements is too much or too little, it can decrease your efficiency and increase risks to your health and home.
Do you know the processes happening inside your chimney? It is important to understand because of the risks associated with fire and carbon monoxide.
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.
Are you confident enough to say that the air you breathe in your own home is clean and free of carbon monoxide? Call the experts now and find out for sure.
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 backdrafting. 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 “backdrafting” 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
- Tobacco smoke
- 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 Poisoning
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:
Carbon Monoxide poisoning can cause headaches. It is critical to have a working detector on each level of your home.
- Chest Pain
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.