Safety PSA: How Safe is Your Chimney With All This Rain?

Chimney safety in the rain is no joke. 

The weather in California has been exceptionally rainy lately. The state has just experienced our ninth atmospheric river in a three-week succession of major winter storms, leading to flooding, landslides, and hazardous conditions. For residents of the state, it’s essential to be aware of the potential effects of the rain on our homes – particularly our chimneys.

In order to ensure complete safety from potential leaks, erosion, or falling debris, there are certain areas of concern that should be checked and monitored.

How Safe is Your Chimney With All This Rain?

Mortar, the material that binds the bricks of a chimney together, is water soluble. When exposed to moisture from rain, snow, and ice, mortar can become soft or eroded. This can lead to structural instability and damage to a home.

Watch out for these eight areas of concern for chimney safety in the rain:

  1. Soft sheetrock around the chimney.  Touch the sheetrock walls on either side of the fireplace fascia and determine if there are indications of moisture.  If there is a leak near the ceiling, it is probably a flashing issue.
  2. Moisture inside the firebox.  Touch the inside of the firebox and see if the brickwork is moist. If it is, the culprit could be gutter, downspout or flashing issues.
  3. Roof leaks & flashing leaks. Be sure to thoroughly inspect all roofing material for any signs of damage, as leaking or missing roofing material can compromise the stability of the chimney structure.
  4. Heavy rain and hail pounding the chimney. Prolonged exposure to heavy showers can cause erosion over time, weakening the chimney walls.
  5. No flue cap or a loose flue cap. Heavy winds can blow off or loosen a flue cap.
  6. Efflorescence. This is a white powdery residue that can be seen when a chimney dries out after it has become wet.
  7. Falling trees or branches rubbing against the chimney structure. Wet weather will make the tree branches heavier, and with high winds, it can beat a chimney down or cause serious damage. Make sure to pay special attention to any trees in close proximity to bedrooms.
  8. Wind stress on the chimney. High winds can add extra stress to the chimney, particularly if there is an old TV antenna still attached.

By taking the time to inspect these areas of concern, California residents can rest easy knowing that their chimneys are safe and secure during this rainy season. In order to ensure complete safety from potential risks, homeowners should routinely inspect their chimneys for these areas of concern. A certified professional can also provide an inspection and determine if any repairs are necessary.

Preemptive Safety Checks

Taking safety measures now can prevent damage down the line. The Chimney Safety Institute of America outlines what we can do now to protect our homes and chimneys during wet weather.

Check the Gutters & Downspouts

Poorly sloped gutters and gutters that are broken or overflowing can cause water to collect and seep near the chimney. In addition, improperly placed downspouts might act like a funnel for unwanted moisture if not directed away from the structure’s base. All of these conditions have the potential to lead to mysterious pools of water around the chimney. Ensure that all gutter and downspout systems are in good working order. They should move water away from the chimney structure, not directly onto it.

Inspect The Roof

A properly installed and well-maintained roof is the first line of defense against water seepage. Inspect the flashing around the chimney, along with any sealants used in the installation. Also look for signs of cracking or wear that might indicate a need for repair.

Check the Base of the Chimney

The base of the chimney should be sealed and able to withstand moisture. Have a professional inspect any concrete or masonry blocks that have become cracked or weathered in order to repair them before they become damaged by water.

Post-Rain Safety Tips

  1. Have a professional inspect the chimney after a heavy storm. This is especially important if any of the warning signs mentioned above have appeared.
  2. Inspect the interior walls for water damage, corrosion, and staining.
  3. Schedule an annual sweeping to ensure that moisture isn’t collecting inside the chimney liner or flue.
  4. Check for any signs of mold or mildew.
  5. Have a professional inspect the chimney if it emits any strange odors.

By doing these simple maintenance checks, homeowners can confidently protect their homes and chimneys from potential risks associated with wet weather.

Contact The Irish Sweep for any masonry repair, fireplace insert installation, chimney cleaning, and/or dryer vent cleaning.  We offer these services to Bay Area customers in order to ensure their health and safety.

Chimney Masonry Repair 101 (Basics You Need to Know)

Repairs and maintenance are unavoidable in any part of a home. Just like most structures and appliances, this is also true for chimneys. All fireplaces and chimneys will eventually have problems that necessitate repair or maintenance – it’s an inevitability regardless of age or design.

This blog post will discuss the basics of chimney masonry repair. We’ll cover the different materials that can make up a chimney, common problems with chimneys and how to repair them, and tips for keeping your chimney in good shape year-round!

Why Is Chimney Maintenance Important?

The most common causes of home fires include smoking, cooking, and electrical malfunction. While you can control some more frequent home fire causes, others like electrical malfunctions or faulty masonry chimneys are harder to pin down. Did you know:

  • More than 61 chimney fires occur every day in the United States
  • The #1 most common cause of chimney fires is a failure to have them regularly cleaned
  • The 2nd most common cause of chimney fires is burning unseasoned wet wood
  • Chimney fires cost homeowners an estimated $125 million in damages every year

Chimney fires are preventable. While it’s impossible to anticipate every disaster, you can take steps to minimize the risk of a chimney fire in your home.

Masonry Chimneys 101

Bricks and mortar, concrete, block, stone, flue tile, cast iron, and steel are just a few of the materials used to construct a masonry chimney. If not correctly installed or maintained, any of these materials can be vulnerable to rainwater and environmental elements. Mortar, the substance that bonds together the masonry components in their chimney, is water soluble. This is why keeping your structures dry and preventing water intrusion is so important!

While properly built and well-constructed masonry chimneys can endure a long time (consider the Roman Arches, which still exist today), this does not imply that all masonry chimneys are created equal. Inferior materials or craftsmanship can lead to chimney deterioration and, in some cases, a structurally unsound chimney. In cases like these, you will need reliable chimney masonry repair services.

Common Chimney Masonry Repair Problems

Don’t be intimidated by chimney masonry repair! The most common problems with masonry chimneys include:

  1. Chimney crown cracks
  2. Water penetration
  3. Leaning chimney
  4. Damaged or missing mortar joints
  5. Chimney deterioration

These problems can be caused by various factors, including water damage, excessive heat exposure, poor construction, and more. If left unaddressed, these problems can lead to even more significant issues like chimney fires or collapse.

Chimney Masonry Repair

Chimney Crown Cracks

A chimney crown is the cement cap that sits atop the chimney. Its job is to prevent moisture from seeping into the chimney’s masonry where it is most vulnerable to the elements: at the top.

However, chimney crowns can crack over time due to age, weathering, or settling. Cracks in the chimney crown can allow water to seep into the chimney structure, leading to further deterioration. In climates reaching freezing temperatures, water entering the chimney can freeze and expand, causing the crown to crack even further.

What to Do About Crown Cracks?

The best way to repair chimney crown cracks is to have a professional chimney sweep or mason take a look at them. They will be able to determine the extent of the damage and recommend the best course of action. In some cases, the chimney crown may need to be rebuilt entirely.

Water Penetration

Another common problem with masonry chimneys is water penetration. Water can enter the chimney through cracks in the chimney crown, flue, or mortar joints. Once inside, the water can cause problems like rusting metal components and deteriorating masonry.

When water mixes with creosote – a tarlike substance that builds up on the chimney walls – it creates a corrosive acid that eats away at the chimney’s masonry. This can lead to even more severe problems like chimney collapse.

What to Do About Water Penetration?

Keep a regular chimney checkup schedule and ensure there is no place for water to seep into any section of the chimney or fireplace. If you find water leaks, have a professional chimney sweep or mason look at it as soon as possible. They will be able to determine the source of the leak and make recommendations for repairs.

Leaning Chimney

A leaning chimney is a cause for concern. It can be caused by many factors, including foundation settling, water damage, or poor construction. A leaning chimney can put your entire home at risk of chimney collapse.

What to Do About a Leaning Chimney?

If your chimney is leaning, it is structurally unsafe. It’s essential to have a professional chimney sweep or mason look at it as soon as possible. They will be able to determine the cause of the problem and make recommendations for repairs. In some cases, the chimney may need to be rebuilt entirely.

Damaged or Missing Mortar Joints

Mortar joints are the spaces between bricks, stones or clay flue liners in a masonry chimney. They are filled with mortar, which acts as glue to hold the chimney together. Over time, the mortar can become cracked, crumbled, or missing. This can leave the chimney vulnerable to water damage and collapse.

What to Do About Damaged or Missing Mortar Joints?

One of the most common repairs needed for a chimney is mortar replacement, also called tuckpointing. Tuckpointing joints back in are usually not complicated. Occasionally, extensive damage demands more comprehensive repairs, which may include reconstructing part or all of the chimney, but tuckpointing is a satisfactory repair for minor damages. As for all major repairs, it’s best to have a licensed chimney professional take a look.

Chimney Deterioration

Like any other structure, a chimney will eventually show wear and tear. Flue liner and smoke chamber damage, loosened brickwork, water damage, and mold are all common symptoms of chimney deterioration.

What to Do About Chimney Deterioration?

The best way to prevent chimney deterioration is to opt for an annual inspection by a certified chimney professional. Their specialized tools and knowledge will help them spot any potential problems so they can be fixed before they cause further damage. You can avoid serious problems down the road by being proactive and getting annual chimney inspections.

Easy Chimney Health Tips

Maintaining a chimney is much preferable to fixing a broken chimney. Here are a few easy tips to help you keep your chimney in good shape:

  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned yearly by a certified chimney professional.
  • Repair any cracks or damage as soon as possible.
  • Make sure there is no place for water to seep into any section of the chimney.
  • Keep trees and bushes trimmed away from the chimney.
  • Never burn trash or wet wood in your fireplace.

These simple tips can help keep your chimney healthy and functioning correctly for years to come. If you have any concerns about your chimney, be sure to contact a professional chimney sweep or mason.

As you can see, you may need a variety of chimney masonry repair at some point. It’s essential to have a regular chimney checkup schedule to catch any problems early on. And if you do need repairs, it’s crucial to have a professional chimney sweep or mason take a look as soon as possible. With their help, you can keep your chimney healthy and functioning optimally for as long as possible!

Related Reading: Surprising Benefits of Chimney Sweep Services You Might Not Know About

Need Chimney Masonry Repair Help?

At The Irish Sweep, we always adhere to the highest safety standards. We are licensed and insured Bay Area chimney cleaners professionals who have been serving the area since 1982. If you need a chimney sweep, dryer vent cleaning, chimney masonry repair, or other home services, call us today! Schedule our chimney sweep services today to enjoy a safe fireplace and chimney all year long.

Surprising Benefits of Chimney Sweep Services You Might Not Know About

Chim chimney, chim chimney, chim chim cher-ee

A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be!

This nostalgic Mary Poppins song rings true – chimney sweep services are absolutely essential to the integrity and safety of your chimney. Lucky indeed!

Even if you’ve lived in a home for twenty years, the chimney is an often intimidating appliance to clean and maintain. Dealing with soot and tight spaces is enough to make anyone queasy.

But chimney sweeps (or chimney service companies) are trained professionals with the experience and know-how to get the job done quickly, efficiently, and without mess!

Here are some surprising benefits of chimney sweep services that you might not know about:

Chimney sweep services prevent chimney fires

In the U.S., there are over 25,000 chimney fires per year. These fires are responsible for over 125 million dollars in property damage.

A chimney fire can reach temperatures upwards of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit – hot enough to crack your chimney’s liner and ignite your house’s framing.

Yikes!

The most common cause of chimney fires is creosote buildup. Creosote is a tar-like substance that forms when wood burns. It’s black, sticky, and flammable.

How does creosote build up in a chimney?

When you burn wood, the smoke rises up the chimney. As the temperature of the chimney increases, the water vapor in the smoke condenses on the chimney walls. This leaves behind a sticky residue that is full of toxins and carcinogens.

Over time, this buildup gets thicker and thicker. If it’s not removed, it becomes a severe fire hazard.

How do chimney sweep services prevent creosote buildup and chimney fires?

Chimney sweeps are trained to identify and remove creosote buildup before it has a chance to ignite. They have specialized tools and equipment to do so – brushes, scrapers, and vacuums specifically designed for chimneys. Chimney professionals also know how to spot other potential fire hazards, like cracks in the chimney lining or blockages.

Chimney sweep services improve the efficiency of your fireplace

If your chimney is blocked by debris, it will affect how well your fireplace drafts.

How do chimneys create drafts?

When a chimney fills with hot gas, the gas rises because it is less dense than the air outside the house. The rising hot gas creates a pressure difference called draft, which draws combustion air into the appliance and expels the exhaust gas outside.

If something is blocking the chimney – like soot, creosote, or debris – it will impede the flow of hot air. This can cause many problems, like smoke spilling into your home, decreased heat output, and even a fire.

A chimney sweep will clear out any blockages in your chimney so that the hot air can escape quickly and easily. As a result, you’ll have a fireplace that works more efficiently and is less smoky.

A good chimney sweep will clear any blockages and ensure the flue is the correct size for your fireplace. They’ll also check for any cracks or leaks and repair them as needed.

As a result, you’ll see a decrease in your energy bills and have fewer issues with smoke in your home.

chimney sweep services

Chimney sweep services keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas produced whenever fuel is burned. CO blends into the existing air, can’t be heard, felt, seen, or tasted, and can be lethal without a device to detect it.

If your chimney is blocked or damaged, CO from your gas fireplace can leak into your home and poison the people and animals inside.

What are the signs of a carbon monoxide leak in a gas fireplace?

  • Soot, smoke, fumes, or back-draft in the house from a chimney, fireplace, or other fuel-burning equipment
  • Sooty or brownish-yellow stains around the fireplace
  • You smell a faint, “rotten egg” odor. Though CO is odorless, sometimes it is accompanied by other exhaust gases you can smell
  • A yellow pilot light flame instead of the usual clear blue

Symptoms of carbon monoxide inhalation are similar to the flu and can include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue or confusion

If you experience these symptoms and suspect a CO leak, get out of your house immediately and call 911. Then, open all the doors and windows to air out your home.

How can chimney sweep services help?

A chimney sweep will inspect your chimney for any damage that could be causing a CO leak. They’ll make sure the chimney is clear of debris and adequately vented. If they find any cracks or leaks, they’ll repair them so you can use your fireplace safely.

A properly functioning chimney is essential for preventing CO poisoning. A chimney sweep can ensure yours is up to code and working properly.

They can also install CO monitors in your home, which will sound an alarm if dangerous levels of CO are detected.

Chimney sweeps can save you money on your energy bills

If your chimney is blocked, it can’t do its job of venting hot air out of your home.

This can cause your furnace or fireplace to work overtime, driving up your energy bills.

How can chimney sweep services help save money?

  1. A chimney sweep will clear any blockages in your chimney so that hot air can escape and your furnace doesn’t have to work as hard.
  2. Regularly sweeping ashes from the firebox also allows more oxygen to circulate, making fires hotter. This means you can use less wood to achieve the same heat level, saving you money in the long run. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, even as little as one-tenth of an inch of soot can decrease a fire’s heat output by 50%.
  3. A chimney sweep can also inspect your chimney and ensure it’s the correct size for your fireplace. If it’s too small, they can recommend ways to enlarge it. This will help your fireplace work more efficiently and save you money on your energy bills.
  4. A chimney sweep can fill cracks and fissures in your chimney, which could otherwise allow carbon monoxide and outside air to seep into your home. Filling these cracks makes your chimney more energy efficient.

These simple chimney maintenance tasks can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Chimney sweeps can extend the life of your chimney

Your chimney is constantly exposed to rain, wind, and sun elements. Over time, this exposure can take its toll on your chimney, causing it to crack or crumble.

Chimney sweeps inspect your chimney for damage and make all necessary repairs.

They can also apply a waterproof sealant to your chimney to help protect it from the elements.

Investing in chimney sweep services can extend your chimney’s life and avoid costly repairs down the road. A well-maintained chimney can last for decades, but a neglected chimney will need to be replaced much sooner.

Chimney sweeps remove bird nests and other animals from chimneys

Birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other animals often take up residence in chimneys. They build nests that can block the chimney and prevent airflow. In some cases, animals may even die in the chimney, which is generally unpleasant and leads to foul odors.

A chimney sweep will safely remove any animals or nests from your chimney so you can use your fireplace without worry. They can also install a chimney cap, which will keep animals out in the future.

Related Reading: How Often Do You Need a Chimney Cleaner/Sweep?

Let Bay Area Chimney Cleaners Help

At The Irish Sweep, we always adhere to the highest safety standards. We are licensed and insured Bay Area chimney cleaners professionals who have been serving the area since 1982. If you need a chimney sweep, dryer vent cleaning, or other home services, give us a call today! Schedule our chimney sweep services today to enjoy a safe fireplace and chimney all year long. 

5 Crucial Facts On How To Clean Dryer Vent

Do you NEED to clean dryer vents? Clean dryer vents are not only important for the environment and your home, but also for your safety. Dirty dryer vents can do a number of different things to harm you, from overheating clothes to catching on fire. Keeping the vents clean is cheap and easy, so why wouldn’t you do it? In this post we’ll discuss 5 crucial facts about dryer vents that will convince you to call the cleaners right away!

Do you NEED to clean dryer vents?

Yes – otherwise we wouldn’t be writing this article! It is imperative to get your dryer vents cleaned at least once a year – and more often if you notice its function start to decline in between. Dirty, dusty vents can decrease the efficiency of your dryer, costing you more in electricity bills. Not to mention it’s just plain dangerous to have a clogged vent – lint is highly flammable and can easily cause a fire next to the hot dryer.

5 Facts About Dryer Vents

As promised, here are five key points about clean dryer vent that will make you want to get them cleaned as soon as possible:

  1. 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss.
  2. Failure to clean the dryer (34 percent) is the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires.
  3. More home clothes dryer fires occur in the fall and winter months, peaking in January.
  4. Without a screen, all the lint goes directly into the ventilation lines, increasing the risk of fires. Never use a dryer that has a broken, loose, damaged, or missing lint-catching screen.
  5. Cleaning your dryer vent system at least once per year can save a typical household 30% on clothes drying costs. An efficiently-operating dryer means less cycles and time are required to dry your laundry.

It is clear that keeping your dryer vents clean is a total win-win. Not only do you save money and energy, but you also avoid damage to your clothes, unsafe conditions, and house fires. So don’t wait – call your local dryer vent cleaning crew near me today!

Signs Your Dryer Vents Need Cleaning

There are a few signs you should watch out for when assessing your dryer:

  • Does the vent become clogged during use?
  • Are your clothes or the dryer itself noticeably hot to the touch at the end of a cycle?
  • Are there any black marks or discolorations on your vent walls, ceiling and floor?
  • Have you noticed an increase in static electricity during or after use?
  • Does it take longer than one cycle to dry your clothes?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to call in the experts! Save your home – and yourself – from potential danger by ensuring that your dryer vents are clean and clear. 

Can I clean the dryer vents myself?

When it comes to cleaning, there are some things that people feel they MUST do themselves in order to save money. Unfortunately, this is not one of them. Clean dryer vent is a task that should be left to the professionals. Not only will it save you time and energy, but it will also keep you safe from potential hazards.

Dryer Vent Cleaning Near Me

Our Irish Sweep Bay Area dryer vent cleaning services are affordable, thorough, and experienced. You can rest easy knowing that we will do exactly as promised: our cleaners have years of experience in the dryer cleaning business so they know what it takes for a successful job.

Is There Flammable Debris Inside Your Chimney?

Flammable debris inside your chimney can be a serious fire hazard. If you notice any of these signs, contact a professional chimney sweep immediately.

Whether you have a wood burning chimney or a fireplace with a gas log lighter, flammable debris can build up on the inside—where it’s out of sight and out of mind. Let’s take a look at the top offenders when it comes to fireplace safety.

Soot

Soot is a natural byproduct that accumulates from burning wood. If you have a wood burning chimney in your home, you can be sure you’ve got soot too. Not only is soot flammable, but it’s also fine enough to inhale and contains toxic elements. Be sure to have it removed from your chimney at least once a year.

Creosote

Creosote is a tar-like material that you can find inside a wood burning chimney that hasn’t been cleaned in a while. This substance is highly flammable, so it’s essential to have it removed by a professional chimney sweep. Although, there are a couple ways you can cut back on creosote buildup, such as only burning seasoned wood. Not only does green wood not burn as well, but it also produces more smoke and creosote deposits.

You definitely don’t want to allow creosote and soot to build up inside your chimney. It can spark into a chimney fire that puts your home at risk, but you might not even notice until it’s too late. Another important issue to highlight is that if enough creosote builds up, it can even block toxic gases from exiting the chimney, causing them to remain indoors.

Mold In Chimney

Did you know that mold can grow inside your chimney as well? If there’s moisture in your chimney system, it can lead to unchecked mold growth. This can be caused by things like deteriorating mortar, poorly maintained roof gutters or a faulty chimney cap, so be sure to have a professional chimney sweep look for any chimney damage that could result in this health hazard.

Chimney Flue Damage

In order for your fireplace and wood burning chimney to function properly, the flue needs to be in tip-top shape. But without a professional chimney inspection, it’s tough for homeowners to discover this kind of damage on their own. That’s because a special camera is often needed to really see inside your chimney. If the flue isn’t intact, combustible parts of your home can be exposed to extreme heat, making this scenario a hidden fire hazard.

Animal Nests

Unfortunately, animals sometimes climb into a chimney and become trapped and unable to find their way back out. Another common situation we see is birds or rodents looking for a warm, dry place to build their nests. Nesting materials are flammable, not to mention the mess you’ll find the next time you want to build a fire.

If your wood burning chimney doesn’t have a cap to protect it, don’t be surprised if you’ve had some unexpected visitors, such as bats, raccoons, squirrels, or birds. Even snakes have been found in chimneys from time to time.

Schedule an Inspection

Has it been a while since your last chimney inspection? To schedule an appointment with The Irish Sweep, call us at (510) 521-4088, or use this simple contact form by clicking here. Your safety is our number one priority, so we’re always happy to answer any questions you have. We look forward to hearing from you.

Can a Wood Burning Fireplace Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

If you have a wood burning chimney, it’s essential to understand what carbon monoxide poisoning is and how to protect your household. Here are the main things you need to know about this deadly gas and the importance of scheduling chimney cleaning services.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is responsible for most poisoning fatalities in the United States, but CO poisoning is completely preventable. Awareness is key for homeowners with a wood burning chimney. The main reason CO is so dangerous is that it’s a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that can’t be detected through your senses. In contrast, most of us have smelled the rotten egg stink of propane. But unfortunately, there’s no way to recognize this silent killer by scent alone.

What happens on an anatomical level? Carbon monoxide can actually replace the oxygen (O2) in your blood because red blood cells pick up CO more readily than O2. Without enough oxygen, permanent tissue damage can occur, including injury to your organs, nervous system, and respiratory system. At high enough levels, CO poisoning can quickly result in death, sometimes within minutes. This is especially dangerous for children, the elderly, pregnant women, or anyone with underlying health conditions.

According to the Center for Disease Control, close to 500 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year in the US, and an average of 50,000 seek critical emergency services. Most of these incidents occur from December through February, during the cold winter months when people are trying to stay warm in their homes, only to accidentally poison themselves with fuel-burning appliances. Bear in mind that symptoms of exposure can initially be mistaken for a sudden onset of flu.

Let’s review what causes CO emissions so you know how to spot potential risks and prevent them from becoming a danger to you or your loved ones.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide?

CO occurs whenever a fuel source is burned, such as wood, oil, charcoal, or gas. Several things can produce carbon monoxide. For example, turning on a gas oven for warmth when the power goes out, using a charcoal barbecue grill inside your home, or not having your wood burning chimney cleaned on a regular basis. In fact, CO can even pose a risk on larger boats that have generators.

Wood Burning Chimney

An obstruction in your wood burning chimney can lead to a buildup of CO, as well as a broken connector pipe, backdrafting in the chimney, or a rusted heat exchanger. Scheduling regular maintenance with a professional chimney sweep helps to prevent dangerous situations like these. An experienced specialist will be able to point out any area of concern with your wood burning chimney and advise you on the best solution. This is another reason why DIY chimney cleaning can be so dangerous to attempt. It’s just not worth the risk.

Gas Fireplace

If you have a gas fireplace instead of a wood burning chimney, note that it can also be a hazard without proper chimney maintenance. A poorly maintained or ventilated gas fireplace can result in a dangerous buildup of toxic gas.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Even with precautions in place, it’s useful to know the main symptoms that someone has been exposed to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Knowledge is power, as they say. The most common signs of CO poisoning include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chest pain
  • Clumsiness
  • Weakness

Again, many of these symptoms can, at first, be mistaken for flu. Fresh air and immediate medical attention are vital to anyone suffering from CO exposure.

Safety Precautions

Preventative measures help to protect your household from CO buildup. Here are some basic precautions you can take in order to ensure that your home is safeguarded from this silent killer.

  1. Be sure to fully open the dampers before using your wood burning chimney. This will allow the smoke to escape.
  2. Schedule maintenance with a professional chimney sweep at least a minimum of once a year. It’s important to also have a specialist look over your wood burning chimney to make sure everything is in order and functioning properly. It’s better to discover the need for chimney repair sooner rather than later. Although, depending on how often you use your fireplace, you may need more than one chimney cleaning a year if you love to cozy up by the fire.
  3. Install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home, as well as smoke alarms. They are designed to emit a loud, high-pitched sound if they sense levels of CO in your home. There are different brands on the market, but they’re all affordably priced. Remember, it’s important to have a battery-operated backup, just in case the power ever goes out. Be sure to place them in bedrooms because you’re more vulnerable while you’re asleep.
  4. Additionally, verify that the models you select comply with the latest safety standards.
  5. Only use fuel-burning appliances outside or in fully ventilated areas.
  6. Never leave a vehicle, lawnmower, or generator, etc. running in a  closed garage. Carbon monoxide can enter your home, not to mention it creates a dangerous environment in your garage.
  7. Paint remover contains methylene chloride and shouldn’t be used in the presence of children or in spaces that lack proper ventilation. It’s best to use paint remover outside because methylene chloride is actually converted to carbon monoxide within our bodies.

Schedule a Professional Chimney Inspection

A chimney professional can check to make sure that your fireplace is properly vented. If it’s been a while since your last chimney inspection, give us a call at The Irish Sweep. Your well-being is our number one priority. We’re committed to educating our communities on fireplace safety, so if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out. We’re happy to help in any way that we can. If you’re in the Alameda area, contact our team of experts by phoning (510) 521-4088. You can also email us your questions by clicking here.