Our Apex Chimney Contractor Explains How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

November 19, 2019

Carbon monoxide (CO) claims the lives of more 500 people in the United States every year. Odorless and invisible, it can leak through fireplaces and other fuel-burning appliances, unnoticed until it builds up to deadly amounts. CO is the number one cause of poisoning fatalities in the U.S., and faulty chimney systems are the leading source of it. Below is more information about carbon monoxide, and signs to watch out for.

What Causes Carbon Monoxide Buildup?

A fire which burns efficiently, and which has proper ventilation up through a sound chimney, typically will not release dangerous quantities of carbon monoxide into a home. However, if a faulty appliance operates in an enclosed space which lacks good ventilation, dangerous gases will accumulate, including CO.

Common causes of carbon monoxide buildup include:

  • An obstructed chimney flue
  • A broken chimney connector pipe
  • A rusted heat exchanger
  • A reverse air flow in the chimney (caused by improper sealing)
  • Use of a charcoal-burning barbeque grill indoors
  • Using a gas stove for an extended period of time, such as to warm a room
  • Allowing a car, lawnmower, or generator to idle in the garage for a long period of time

Signs of Carbon Monoxide in Your Home

While carbon monoxide is invisible and can’t be detected by smell or sight, the following are possible clues that there is a CO problem in your home:

  • Rust or water streaks on the chimney/vent
  • Missing or loose furnace panels
  • A thick buildup of soot/creosote inside the chimney
  • Loose or broken connections in the chimney/vent
  • Loose masonry on the chimney exterior

High levels of CO can become life-threatening or lethal within minutes. If you suspect that you or someone in your home may be suffering from exposure to carbon monoxide, exit the area immediately and call emergency services.

Stay Safe—Schedule an Chimney Cleaning & Inspection in Apex NC

The best way to protect yourself and your family from CO is to schedule a yearly (or, for old homes, twice-yearly) inspection. Our professional Apex chimney sweeps can scan your chimney for any signs of deterioration or damage, and clean away toxic creosote buildups. To schedule an appointment for a free estimate, fill out our contact form here.