A Guide to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Guide to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (CO Poisoning)

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Chimney Cleaning

When gas and oil burn in vented heating systems dangerous fumes like carbon monoxide are released into the chimney through a connector pipe. Venting these fumes out of the living area is the primary purpose of a chimney. In addition to carrying off toxic gases, chimneys also create the draft that provides the proper air and fuel mixture for efficient operation of the heating appliance.

Chimney CleaningMany people with a fireplace fail to have their chimney cleaned every year. Flue fires are a natural result of a creosote buildup and can also a major source of carbon monoxide in the home. Creosote, a natural by-product of wood burning, is the residue from unburned products that is left inside the chimney.

  • A light soot covering the inside walls of the chimney.
  • A gel-like substance
  • A hardened black surface that is plastered on the inside wall of a chimney

"Carbon monoxide poisoning associated with using fuel-burning appliances kills more than 200 people each year and sends more than 10,000 to hospital emergency rooms for treatment," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. It’s important to have your fireplace checked for leakage, debris blockages or a buildup of creosote . If you see black stains on the outside of the chimney or flue it could mean pollutants, like carbon, are leaking into your home.

So just how do you keep your fireplace safe? Follow these tips:

  • Have the chimney inspected and cleaned regularly. If you use the fireplace frequently, you should have it cleaned more often.
  • Build smaller, hotter fires that burn more completely and produce less smoke.
  • Use seasoned firewood.
  • Never burn cardboard, wrapping paper, trash, or Christmas trees - these can spark a chimney fire.

Using gas:
Natural gas is a clean burning fuel. The fumes produced contain high levels of water vapor leading to more condensation. The vapors also contain chlorides which results in the more corrosive conditions for the chimney flues. This means the chimney flue can either plug up completely or deteriorate quicker than normal.

Using oil:
Oil flues need to be cleaned and checked every year because deposits of soot may build up on the interior walls of the chimney. Since soot is made up of carbon, any amount of build-up places you at a higher risk of having carbon monoxide in your home.

It is important to pay attention to your fireplace, no matter what you use to fuel it. Gas and oil may force carbon monoxide into your home. Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer” because the symptoms are similar to that of the flu, causing many people to ignore it. Serious effects can be caused by short-term exposure at high levels or by long-term exposure at low levels. . In either case, the situation can be quite serious, therefore all possible preventative measures should be taken to avoid unnecessary exposure.



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