Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

Frequently Asked Questions About Chimneys and Carbon Monoxide

A big part of the role that Pozzi Chimney Sweep plays in our community—and where we derive much of our purpose—is keeping Illinois homeowners and their families safe. By thoroughly inspecting and cleaning chimneys and dryer vents, we keep people safe from potential fires, but we also keep them protected from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide, known as “the silent killer,” is often the last thing on a homeowner’s mind when they get their fire lit for the first time each year or when they turn on their clothes dryer, but if a chimney or dyer is blocked or its draft is impeded in some other way, it may not be able to vent properly.

Pozzi Chimney Sweep offers the full gamut of chimney services, including chimney sweeping, inspection, and repair, along with dryer ventilation cleaning.

Pozzi Chimney Sweep offers the full gamut of chimney services, including chimney sweeping, inspection, and repair, along with dryer ventilation cleaning.

Why is carbon monoxide so dangerous?

The Chimney Safety Institute of America reports that more than 200 people die each year because of venting problems that lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. An additional 10,000 carbon monoxide-related injuries are reported annually. Simply put, too much CO in your blood will kill you, and our bodies will mistakenly choose carbon monoxide over oxygen when exposed to both. To make matters worse, this is an invisible, odorless, and tasteless gas.

Experts will tell you that the symptoms of prolonged, low-level carbon monoxide poisoning mimic flu symptoms so closely that people sometimes don’t discover the real culprit until it’s too late and permanent damage has already been done to the brain or organs. Common CO poisoning symptoms include: headaches, nausea, dizziness, exhaustion, even depression.

How can my chimney create carbon monoxide?

Because houses today are more tightly sealed, saving us energy dollars, they do not naturally vent toxic gases, which are the byproducts of combustion, so well as they once did. Furthermore, new high-efficiency heating appliances, when paired with an existing chimney flue or improperly installed, may not function correctly and can cause CO to build up in the home. Chimneys that are blocked by birds’ nests or creosote build-up may also prevent toxic gases from filtering as they should.

How can a chimney sweep company prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

The most important thing to do is to have your fireplace, chimney, and your heating system inspected annually. This is a recommendation shared by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Fire Protection Association, and the American Lung Association. During an inspection, your Pozzi Chimney Sweep technician will be able to alert you to any areas of concern in your chimney or heating appliance. We also recommend having a certified technician inspect your clothes dryer vent to search for any blockages.

If you live in or around Hinckley, Illinois, we hope you will schedule your chimney inspection and/or dryer vent inspection with Pozzi Chimney Sweep today.

Dangers of a Dirty Chimney

Don't allow your family to be in harm's way just because of a dirty chimney.

Don’t allow your family to be in harm’s way just because of a dirty chimney.

For good reasons, the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends you have your chimney swept and inspected annually. Of course, your chimney gets dirty from soot throughout the year whenever you burn a fire in your fireplace and should be cleaned; however, one of the main reasons for this maintenance recommendation is to protect you from the dangers of a dirty chimney. A CSIA-certified company, Pozzi Chimney Sweep offers superior service in chimney sweeping and inspecting and will help you prevent the leading causes of these two deadly dangers of a dirty chimney.

chimney fires

The CSIA stresses that dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, both dramatic, flame-shooting fires and slow-burning, quiet fires. Luckily, this danger can be easily prevented by having your chimney swept annually by Pozzi Chimney Sweep. Yearly inspections are equally important to check to see if any fire hazards are remaining in your chimney after its cleaning. The reason a chimney cleaning is so essential is to remove creosote build-up, the leading cause of chimney fires. Creosote is formed naturally during the wood-burning process. When the by-products of combustion (smoke, gases, vapors, tar fog, unburned wood particles, etc.) exit your fireplace through your cooler upper chimney, condensation occurs, and the remaining residue that sticks to your chimney walls is creosote. Black or brown in color, the appearance of creosote can vary from shiny and hardened, crusty and cracked, or gummy and sticky, but no matter what it looks like, creosote is highly combustible and a dangerous fire hazard, especially if the build-up is significant and your internal flue reaches a certain temperature. This is why it is so important to schedule a chimney sweep to clean out all of the built-up creosote deposits in your chimney. The CSIA-certified chimney sweeps at Pozzi Chimney Sweep even use a “Chim-Scan” video camera attached to a long pole to record the exterior of your chimney walls up close to be sure all creosote is removed after they finish sweeping.

carbon monoxide poisoning

The second deadly danger of a dirty chimney, carbon monoxide poisoning claims the lives of thousands of Americans every year as well as causes around 10,000 cases of illnesses, according to the CSIA. Carbon monoxide, another by-product of combustion, enters your home from your chimney when you have a damaged or deteriorated flue liner, debris clogging the flue, soot and creosote build-up, or animals or nests obstructing the passageway of your chimney. Restricted air flow also contributes to carbon monoxide leaking into your house because not enough air flowing does not allow the combustion by-products to exit, forcing them back into your living space. When you breathe carbon monoxide, the protein hemoglobin in your blood latches on to it rather than live-giving oxygen. Low-level exposure to carbon monoxide can result in permanent brain and organ damage and death. Preventing carbon monoxide leaks is simple: schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection from Pozzi Chimney Sweep to clean out soot, creosote, and debris and to check the condition of your flue liner.

To protect you, your family, and your home from the deadly dangers of a dirty chimney, schedule an appointment today for your annual chimney sweep and inspection from Pozzi Chimney Sweep. We will ensure no chimney fires or carbon monoxide poisoning will endanger you and your family.

Carbon Monoxide and Your Fireplace

Pretty much everyone knows that carbon monoxide is dangerous.  A lot of us have carbon monoxide alarms already installed in our homes, right next to our smoke detectors. Carbon monoxide is one of those unseen enemies, which makes it even more frightening than the prospect of sleeping through a rogue fire in the home. The effects of carbon monoxide aren’t just deadly—there often isn’t a way to determine what’s happening before it’s too late. Mild poisoning can include symptoms of fatigue, nausea, dizziness, headache and shortness of breath. Severe poisoning, however, can hit quickly and cause loss of muscle control or consciousness, as well as vomiting. If not treated immediately, severe cases usually end with fatality.

Carbon monoxide can be produced by any kind of fuel-burning appliance, including fireplaces, heating systems, stoves and space heaters that burn fuels such as wood, coal, propane, kerosene, oils or natural gas. If any of these appliances aren’t burning completely, carbon monoxide is a result. Without a working exhaust, that carbon monoxide can fill the home and cause poisoning.

Anytime you burn something in your fireplace, what remains is a source of carbon monoxide.

Anytime you burn something in your fireplace, what remains is a source of carbon monoxide.

While it’s good to be cautious and careful about the use of any appliance that burns fuel, there are steps you can take to ensure that you can burn wood in your fireplace or stove successfully and safely. The CSPC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) directs consumers to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by having appliances “installed by qualified professionals”. Certified chimney sweeps must follow strict guidelines during installation, inspections and cleanings to adhere to safety regulations. You’ll gain confidence in knowing that the job was well done and your fireplace or stove, whether gas or wood, is properly exhausted so your air is clean and safe.

In addition to professional installation of your appliances, here are three things you can do to reduce carbon monoxide emissions while using your fireplace:

  1. First and foremost, have your fireplace or stove inspected and cleaned annually.
  2. Burn only dry, seasoned wood and keep your fire hot by stoking it frequently. This feeds the fire with oxygen and helps the heat stay high. Hotter temperatures equal complete and successful fuel combustion.
  3. If you haven’t already done so, install carbon monoxide detectors. The NFPA recommends placing them outside all sleeping areas and on every level of your home.

At Pozzi, we serve the Northern Illinois area, so don’t hesitate to give us a call to address your concerns about any aspect of your fireplace functioning. We have certified technicians and chimney sweeps that work hard to give you the confidence you need to enjoy your fireplace or stove.