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About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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.

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.

The Perfect Fire

We’ve got to have the best of everything these days. While your fire might not be something you’ll be able to brag about to your neighbor or enter into a contest, a good fire will certainly be a lot more enjoyable. It will burn without a lot of smoke, and won’t be a high maintenance hassle. So don’t pour your hot cocoa just yet—take a few moments to start the perfect fire.

For starters, you’ll need to get ready to build your fire by taking care of a couple things:

You cannot control much in life, but you can build a fire to perfection. Start with your annual cleaning and inspection.

You cannot control much in life, but you can build a fire to perfection. Start with your annual cleaning and inspection.

Clean up your mess. Your mother taught you well, and now’s the time to act on it. Keep your fireplace clean by removing ash after fires, and make sure you’re starting the season right with a clean chimney. If you didn’t schedule your annual sweeping this past spring, get it done before you light that fire. The CSIA recommends annual cleaning and inspection to prevent chimney fires.

Open the damper. This one might be a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget. If the damper is closed, the only place smoke has to go is back into the home.

Deal with drafts. Santa’s the only thing that should be coming down your chimney. If you notice a downdraft when you’ve opened the fireplace doors and the damper, you’re probably going to have a problem with negative air pressure. You’ll either need to open a window or door, or else check around the house for any appliances that might be taking air from the house. If you have doors on your fireplace, try leaving them open for about half an hour to help the firebox warm up. (This will help the smoke go the proper direction: up.)

Use only dry, seasoned wood. Make sure your logs aren’t green or damp. Hardwoods, such as oak, burn best. These create hot fires that burn clean and reduce toxic gases such as carbon monoxide.

Now it’s time to build the fire.

First, you’ll need some kindling firewood. You probably don’t need to be told that sticking a match next to a log won’t result in much of anything. Stack your kindling in criss-cross layers to get the best results. About 4-5 layers should do the trick. Next, you’ll want to insert your firestarter into the center of the kindling. This can be either balled up newspaper, compressed sawdust, or some other type of tinder. Using starter logs such as Duraflame isn’t a good idea—they only create faster creosote buildup.

Now you’re ready to light your fire. Light your tinder from the top—this gives the kindling more flame-time to catch fire. Once you’ve successfully lit the fire and the kindling is burning, add a couple of logs, being careful not to place them where they will smother the kindling fire. You might need to help it along by stoking the fire under the log. Using your poker, lift the log gently and carefully to allow some oxygen to feed the fire.

Add more logs as your fire begins to burn evenly. Now, sit back and relax. And don’t forget to pour that cup of hot cocoa.