Most people usually associate carbon monoxide poisoning with burning fossil fuels like oil and gas. But a buildup of creosote in a chimney from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces will increase the risk toxic gas coming back into your home. If you’re worried about carbon monoxide poisoning, knowing what to look for and having your chimney swept annually will help keep you and your family safe.
Inhaling high levels carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen getting to the heart, brain and nervous system. Severe carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to unconsciousness or even death after just a few minutes. A lower level exposure can cause nausea, fatigue and headaches. Low levels over time may lead to additional neurological symptoms including dizziness, coordination problems, confusion and impaired judgment.
Chimneys Vent By-Products of Combustion
After being released into the chimney carbon monoxide fumes that are not properly ventilated out of your home can have negative health effects on your entire family. Incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels, including oil, natural gas, wood and coal, can cause creosote buildup and lead to carbon monoxide gas entering your home.
When you burn fuel, the by-products are carbon dioxide, smoke, water, carbon monoxide, and creosote. Chimneys are supposed to vent these substances from your home. Creosote that doesn’t remain in the form of a gas as it goes up condenses into a liquid that sticks to the inside of the chimney flue. Condensation occurs when flue gases cool before they reach the top of the chimney.
How to Tell if You Have a Problem
When incomplete combustion of a fuel occurs, carbon monoxide rather than carbon dioxide is the by-product produced. The signs to look for are black, sooty marks on walls, mainly around stoves, fireplaces, and furnaces.
When a gas appliance burns orange or yellow flames instead of blue flames. You may also notice condensation on windows or moisture collecting on walls or other cold surfaces inside the home. If there are discolored bricks at the top of the chimney pr rust on the chimney flue.
What You Can Do
Since carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas, it is important to take steps to prevent exposure before it is a problem. Make sure your home has good ventilation otherwise carbon monoxide gas can quickly build to dangerous levels.
Have your chimney inspected for blockage and debris, which can lead to a carbon monoxide leak in your home. Install an insulated flue inside your chimney to keep more creosote in a gaseous form which will limit the amount of condensation in the flue.When a gas appliance burns orange or yellow flames instead of blue flames.
You may also notice condensation on windows or moisture collecting on walls or other cold surfaces inside the home. If there are discolored bricks at the top of the chimney prust on the chimney flue.