Santa's Friend Chimney Service

Santa's Friend Chimney Service Blog

The Quiet Threat

When people have a chimney they think of the nice warm nights during the winter and the idea of Santa entering their homes.  It never crosses our mind that a fireplace can affect the air quality throughout the house, causing health problems for the whole family.  Often times this occurs when people fail to get their chimney swept on schedule and creosotes begin to build up in the unit.  Luckily Santa’s Friend Chimney Service has a group of experienced professionals that can inspect and sweep your chimney!

What is Carbon Monoxide and how can it be harmful to me?

If there is anything blocking proper draft in your chimney, you are at risk for harmful gases coming back into your home.

If there is anything blocking proper draft in your chimney, you are at risk for harmful gases coming back into your home.

Carbon Monoxide is a clear gas that cannot be smelled.  Because of this, it can be toxic since large quantities are able to enter the blood stream and compete with the body’s oxygen levels.  CO levels can fill up an area so quickly that they can become fatal before you are aware that they exist.  Small levels are a little less harmful and have mild side effects similar to the flu such as nausea, dizziness, headaches, and fatigue.  Depending on your age and how long you are exposed to the gas, your symptoms may worsen.  If you have any heart problems, you will begin to experience chest pains.

How is Carbon Monoxide poisoning diagnosed?

If you or someone near you begins to feel these symptoms, you should have the area checked immediately.  If you feel like you may have CO poisoning, make your way to a doctor immediately.  If you are experiencing minimal symptoms you may be able to be treated in office, but worse symptoms may require hospitalization and an addition of clean oxygen to your system. If you are unsure, go see your doctor.

How Can Carbon Monoxide poisoning be prevented?

 Since CO can build up during the use of everyday appliances such as generators, vehicles, and chimneys, you should evacuate a room if you begin to feel symptoms of poisoning.  Even if you turn off the unit causing to problem, the room will still need to air out.  Having a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney sweep conduct an annual sweep can help reduce the build-up of creosote.  You can also buy alarms to put throughout your home to let you know that levels are rising.  The alarms can also be connected so that when one sounds, the rest of the house is alerted. It is important to remember that these should not replace smoke detectors.



Why Your Home Could Be Too Airtight

For all their energy efficiency, homes can actually be too airtight. They lack the little leaks and cracks that allow fresh air to enter the house. Without replacement air, exhaust fans are unable to vent stale air. Starved for air, the house can even depressurize, which causes a buildup of carbon monoxide.

Home might be too airtight

It is important, therefore, to learn to recognize signs that your home is not getting enough air. Condensation on windows is a good indicator, as is persistent high humidity. Mold in corners and on pantry shelves is another warning sign, and residual smells from cooking and smoke carry a message to homeowners. Smoke coming into the room from a fireplace should worry you if other possible causes of it have been eliminated, from chimney pots of the wrong size to closed dampers.

Poor ventilation causes serious health problems, including headaches, breathing difficulties, irritated eyes, and dizziness. People who suffer from asthma experience increased and more severe episodes and, as always, the very young and the elderly are at heightened risk. If symptoms appear, open a window on each level of the house about an inch and leave them open for 24 hours. Continue to leave the upper window open, and if symptoms reappear, again open the downstairs window.

You may need to open windows more than an inch. It may even be necessary to have a device installed that will draw in outside air, heat it, and blow it around the house. This will counter the heat loss caused by open windows and will keep heating bills within reason relative to those incurred when the house was suffocating.

Home systems require adequate air to function properly. By way of example, a furnace mixes air with fuel as it combusts. That air comes from somewhere and has to be replaced. If none is available, the furnace will steal it from the flue pipe of the water heater, leaving it with insufficient air. That means the combustible exhaust inside the heater will backdraft into the house, and the by-products will cause a buildup of carbon monoxide. Whether termed too airtight or insufficiently vented, houses need to breathe.

By Jim Robinson on January 28th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment