Understanding the Dangers of Fireplace Carbon Monoxide PoisoningIf you have a fireplace, understanding the dangers of fireplace carbon monoxide poisoning could save a life. At A Sweep Across the Bay in Tampa, we know that regular chimney system inspection and maintenance can help prevent carbon monoxide dangers. Call us and we will come right out and make sure your home is safe.

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

The symptoms of prolonged, low-level carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and sometimes depression. Many cases are not diagnosed until there has been permanent damage to the brain, heart, organs, and tissue. Carbon monoxide can kill you. Older people, babies, and people with anemia or heart disease are more susceptible.

What happens is our bodies replace oxygen with carbon monoxide in our bloodstream, basically causing the cells to suffocate, depending on the intensity and duration of exposure to the carbon monoxide.

Causes of Carbon Monoxide

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, fireplaces need a lot of air from inside your living area to burn. Now our homes are so energy efficient it can sometimes prevent air from getting in from the outside to replace the air leaving the chimney.

This causes fireplaces to burn smoky and slowly. This situation can create a dangerous carbon monoxide problem when your fireplace and furnace have to compete for the same air. When furnaces and boilers are restricted from the oxygen needed to burn fuels completely, carbon monoxide is produced.

Chimneys and Flues

Your chimneys and flues need care and maintenance, particularly when the new breed of high-efficiency gas and oil furnaces are vented into existing chimney flues. They often don’t work their best and can allow toxic gasses to more easily enter your home.

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, chimneys may have long standing problems like damaged or deteriorating flue liners, soot build-up, deterioration and rust-out, debris clogging the passageway, and animal or bird nests clogging the chimney flues.

Gas and oil burning vented heating systems release dangerous fumes like soot, nitrogen dioxide, and acidic water vapors. These pollutants should be prevented from leaking from the chimney into your house.

Improperly sized chimneys make it impossible to create an air flow that is needed to give the proper air and fuel mixture for efficient operation of the furnace or boiler.

The chimneys and flues need to be cleaned and inspected periodically.

Oil flues can allow soot to build up on the inside wall of the chimney liner. A large amount of soot can causes chimney fires,  flue deterioration, inefficient furnace heating, and chimney blockages that push toxic fumes back into the house.

Fumes from natural gas contain high levels of water vapor, which are more likely to cause condensation than older models. These vapors also have chlorides and the flues end up with more corrosive conditions.

Gas furnaces using chimneys that once served oil furnaces sometimes have chimney liners made out of terra-cotta that can have bits and pieces of them slowly flake off under corrosive conditions. Gas vapors along with old oil soot deposits can speed up this corrosion.

In addition, debris can block the chimney and build up at the bottom of the flue. These furnace systems can force carbon monoxide, fumes and possibly soot into your home.

What You Should Do

Annual heating system and chimney inspection and maintenance are important to preventing and understanding the dangers of fireplace carbon monoxide poisoning. Our chimney specialists at A Sweep Across the Bay in Sarasota can take a look at your chimney and flue, make sure they are correctly-sized, structurally sound, clean, and free of blockages. With the right chimney maintenance, your home can be safe and warm.