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This Hazard is Silent

Avoiding Carbon Monoxide Poisoning When Using Your Chimney

When enjoying a warm fire on a cool night, most people are not worrying about the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. However, hundreds of people in the United States die each year because of this colorless, odorless gas. There are a few things every homeowner should know to avoid this tragic situation and use their chimney safely.

First and foremost, it is important to properly maintain the chimney in order to ensure that it is safe. This means having it inspected and cleaned on an annual basis. A certified inspector will be able to identify any problem that may increase the production of carbon monoxide or make it more difficult for the gas to leave the home. This should be done each year before lighting up the fireplace for the first time.

If there is any obstruction in your chimney, this can interrupt the flow of gases and cause CO to leak into your home.

If there is any obstruction in your chimney, this can interrupt the flow of gases and cause CO to leak into your home.

Many people install new windows and doors into their homes for the purpose of keeping out a draft. This is certainly a great way to cut down on the energy costs but it decreases the amount of fresh air moving throughout the home. If there is any amount of carbon monoxide in the air, this situation makes it even more dangerous. It is important to make sure that there is air moving through the home by opening the windows for a few moments after using the chimney.

In addition to keeping air moving through the home, it is vital to make sure that it can move freely through the chimney. If the chimney is clogged for any reason, dangerous gasses may enter the home rather than leaving through the flue. A chimney can become clogged by any number of things, from animal nests to leaves and sticks. Be sure to check carefully for obstructions before lighting a fire.

Even the most careful homeowner may miss a step and end up with carbon monoxide in their home. This is why it is necessary to know the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and to address them immediately. The problem is that, in the early stages, carbon monoxide poisoning is similar to the flue, with headaches and nausea as the primary symptoms. If these symptoms persist, stay on the safe side and contact a doctor.

It is also vital that all homeowners make sure that they have working carbon monoxide detectors in their homes. Since the gas is colorless and odorless, a working detector is the only way to know for sure if there is a problem. This should not be an issue since they are required to pass a home safety inspection, but it is the responsibility of the homeowner to make sure that they have batteries and remain in working condition.

Carbon monoxide can be devastating if it enters the home but it is certainly avoidable. Basic maintenance of the chimney is the best way to prevent any such issue. Be sure that the home and chimney are well ventilated so that the gas can exit properly. It is important to know the symptoms of poisoning so that they can be addressed immediately if they occur.