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Carbon Monoxide: an Overview

There are many gases in the air that we breathe every day, however with the right levels they are actually beneficial to us.  However, carbon monoxide is not one of them.  When homeowners do not have their maintenance done in a timely manner, they will be in danger of this problem and many others.  Thankfully, the professionals at Homestead Chimney are here to keep you and your family safe!

Annual chimney cleaning and inspection is the best way to minimize any risk of a blockage causing a disruption to air flow.

Annual chimney cleaning and inspection is the best way to minimize any risk of a blockage causing a disruption to air flow.

So, what is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide is one of the most dangerous gases, partly because it cannot be seen or smelled when it is in the air.  It is extremely toxic and will compete with oxygen levels in your blood stream.  CO levels can be fatal because it can have your entire room filled before you even realize it.  The early symptoms of exposure are similar to flu symptoms and include nausea, dizziness, headaches and fatigue.  The longer you are exposed the more complicated the symptoms will be, including chest pains and even fatality.

How is carbon monoxide poisoning diagnosed?

If multiple people in your surroundings start to feel these symptoms, you should evacuate the area immediately and have a professional come check out the area.  Even if you turn off what is causing the leak, your place will still need time to air out.  You will need to then make your way to a physician.  If you only have a minimal case, they will probably treat you in office.  However, for extreme cases, you may be sent to the hospital to receive oxygen until levels are stable.

How can you keep carbon monoxide out?

Carbon Monoxide can be associated with the use of everyday appliances, as well as your chimney.  You should always be prepared and have knowledge on what to do in the event of an emergency.  Also, you can now buy CO alarms for your home so that there is an extra source of detection.  To get the best performance, spread them throughout your home on all levels.  They can also be connected; so that when one sounds you can hear them anywhere in the home.  These are not the same as a smoke alarm, so you should have both installed.

Lastly, keep your maintenance up to date.  It is important that you have your inspection and sweep at least once a year to keep damages and blockages from affecting your chimney.



An Explanation of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas capable of causing serious illness or death. Since 1999, there have been over 700 deaths caused by this deadly gas. This should be a concern for homeowners with fireplaces, as a lack of maintenance has been sited as a potential cause.

Carbon Monoxide, or CO, is produced by things such as automobiles, gasoline generators, stoves, gas heating systems, charcoal, and wood burning fireplaces. If there is no direct ventilation or the ventilation is blocked, the gas cannot go up the vent pipe. However, it must go somewhere so it takes the path of least resistance and that can be your home. If this happens and the home is occupied by a pet or person, they are subject to falling victim to CO poisoning.

Common symptoms of this condition are abnormal weakness, nausea, chest pain, headaches, and vomiting. When an individual has prolonged exposure to CO, they can fall unconscious and parish. In many cases, people believe they are coming down with another type of  illness like the flue due to common symptoms.

In order for a body to function properly, it must have oxygen. When CO is present in abundance, it prevents our red blood cells from being able to process oxygen into the body. This damages tissues and results in the symptoms mentioned above and can eventually lead to death. While an alert person may recognize the symptoms mentioned in time, someone who is inebriated or sleeping will not.

In order to prevent this from happening in your home, it is recommended that a professional inspect and clean your fireplace before use every season. Even if it was a mild winter the previous year, there can still be blockages and buildup inside the chimney that will prevent the gas from properly venting. CO detectors are also recommended as an early alert to CO poisoning.