Avoiding Carbon Monoxide Poisoning When Using Your Chimney
Each year, hundreds of people across the country die from carbon monoxide poisoning. In many cases, this is because they are not properly using or maintaining their chimneys. It is important to avoid carbon monoxide before it enters the home since it is colorless and odorless. Families must know how to keep themselves safe from this dangerous gas and this begins with properly caring for their chimneys by making annual inspections a priority.
Carbon monoxide is often created as a result of the material that is burned to create a fire. It should leave the home through the chimney. However, if the chimney is clogged, it will simply come right back into the home. Be sure to check the chimney regularly to make sure that it is not clogged with leaves or animal debris. A good annual cleaning is also an important part of keeping the chimney as safe as possible.
Another common cause of carbon monoxide poisoning from the chimney is negative air pressure. This is when the air in the chimney goes into the home instead of out. In many cases, this is caused by a change in the venting system of the home. If, for example, new heaters have been installed in the home, it is important to make sure that the chimney is functioning properly and sending toxic gasses out of the home rather than in.
The best way to check that the chimney is functioning safely is to have an inspection by a certified chimney sweep. These professionals will not only be able to tell whether the home is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning but they will also be able to see warning signs of various risks before they become serious. This inspection should be done annually, either at the very start or the very end of chimney season.
Families should also make sure they are aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning so that they can seek help immediately if needed. The problem is that many people mistake carbon monoxide poisoning for normal wintertime illness. Symptoms include nausea, headache, dizziness and fatigue. If these problems persist or seem more intense than with a normal illness, see a medical professional immediately.
It is also absolutely imperative that every home has working carbon monoxide detectors. This is the most effective way to know whether or not the toxic gas is entering the home. Be sure to check the batteries each month and make sure that the detector is in good, working condition. Doing it on the same day each month is a great way to remember this important task and keep the family safe.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be absolutely devastating but it can also be completely avoided. Make sure that the chimney is clear of all obstructions and that negative air pressure is not presenting any issues. An annual cleaning and inspection will allow a professional to take a look and see whether or not the home is at risk for carbon monoxide. It is also mandatory for every home to have working carbon monoxide detectors installed and to check them regularly for proper function. These are fairly simple pieces of chimney and home maintenance but they can literally mean the difference between life and death during heating season.