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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.



The Science of Combustion

Both chemistry and physics play a part in the burning process of your chimney. If something is “off,” there could be very serious consequences for your home and family. Here is an overview.

Burning happens with the presence of three main ingredients: fuel, heat and oxygen. This is known as the fire triangle.

Burning happens with the presence of three main ingredients: fuel, heat and oxygen. This is known as the fire triangle.





Proper Chimney Maintenance: How Often is Enough?

Given the seriousness of the problems that can result from an improperly functioning chimney, the importance of its maintenance cannot be overstated. At a minimum, the chimney and flue need to be inspected once a year, more if the fireplace gets a lot of use. These inspections should be done by a professional who is trained to spot early warning signs easily missed by homeowners.

Chimney Maintenance Frequency - South Georgia - Homestead Chimney

Chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning are the most deadly of the problems caused by chimneys in bad repair. The first occur when combustible creosote builds up in the flue and eventually catches on fire. The latter, known as the unseen killer, continues to claim hundreds of lives every year, typically resulting from poor draft and inadequate ventilation. Having a simple CO2 meter and alarm can help you know if this becomes a problem. They are accurate and inexpensive and they save lives.

The most important function of a chimney is to vent the toxic gases released every time you build a fire. Chimney blockages by debris and birds’ nests are common in improperly covered and capped chases and flues and are the primary cause of inadequate ventilation. The chimney also serves as a barrier between what goes up the chimney, heat and smoke, from the rest of the home.

Heat and smoke can seep through cracks in mortar, widening them and making the problem worse and can potentially ignite. Furthermore, there is no shortage of fuel in most flues, with creosote in different stages forming on their walls. A trained professional will see early indications of these issues and deal with them accordingly.

A thorough inspection will involve both the interior of the chimney, the flue and the exterior. This includes the chase cover and chimney cap. Your chimney sweep will check for signs of rusting of the chimney cap and chase cover, accumulation of soot and tar in the flue, and myriad other potential problems. Well worth the expense when you think about what it saves you long term. Making sure the annual maintenance of your chimney is done by a qualified sweep will insure that your chimney does what it was built to do: keep your family warm.