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Is carbon monoxide dangerous?

Carbon monoxide gets a lot of buzz. We hear warnings in the news regularly about the dangers of carbon monoxide and how we should protect ourselves, our homes and our families from the potentially deadly gas. But is all the buzz just hype, or is carbon monoxide truly dangerous? If it is, how can you keep your home and family safe?

The dangers of carbon monoxide

The truth is carbon monoxide is dangerous. It can cause irreparable damage and even death. Here’s why: When inhaled, carbon monoxide bonds with the cells in your blood, taking the place of oxygen. Also, with carbon monoxide edging it out, oxygen can no longer enter your blood stream and make its way throughout your body and to your organs. That can lead to organ damage and even death. Carbon monoxide is made more dangerous by the fact that it is odorless and invisible. So, in most cases, most people can’t tell that they are being exposed to carbon monoxide.

How carbon monoxide forms

Carbon monoxide results from incomplete combustion. So, whether it’s a malfunctioning heating appliance or hot water heater, a fireplace with a blocked chimney, or a car or generator that isn’t properly ventilated, carbon monoxide can come from any appliance or machine fueled by combustion.

Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning

At the early stages, carbon monoxide exposure mimics symptoms of the flu. Also, people who breathe in carbon monoxide experience headaches, fatigue, nausea, achiness and exhaustion. If not removed from the source of the carbon monoxide, people can become weak, confused or forgetful. And, they can vomit or lose consciousness.

How to prevent carbon monoxide exposure

Maintaining your appliances is the first step in protecting your home from carbon monoxide poisoning. So, fireplaces, furnaces and chimneys should be cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once per year. Clothing dryer vents also need to be cleaned once per year to prevent blockages that can allow carbon monoxide to back up into your home. Also, make sure that you never burn anything in your fireplace or heating stove that wasn’t intended to be burned, don’t use outdoor appliances — like camp stoves or generators — indoors. Never leave a car running in the garage, even with the door opened.

Carbon monoxide detection

To keep your home and family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning, you also should equip your home with carbon monoxide detectors. Also, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on each floor of your home and outside of all sleeping areas. Check your carbon monoxide detectors regularly to make sure the batteries are fresh and the carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.

If you are concerned about carbon monoxide hazards in your home, call the experts at Total Chimney Care! We clean and inspect chimneys, oil flues and clothing dryer vents. And, we can spot carbon monoxide hazards in and around your appliances. We can help you resolve any hazards and provide you with carbon monoxide safety tips.

By Steve Sobczak on April 24th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Know the importance of annual chimney sweepings and inspections

It’s easy to let your annual chimney cleaning and inspection fall by the wayside when you have so much on your to-do list. As professional chimney sweeps, however, we can’t stress enough the importance of having your chimney swept and inspected annually. Your annual chimney and fireplace cleaning and inspection can save you and your home from many dangers and many hassles.

Prevent home fires Importance of Annual Inspection - Total Chimney Care - New Haven CT

First and foremost, your annual chimney cleaning and inspection can save you from a damaging, and potentially deadly, home fire. This is the primary reason the Nation Fire Protection Association recommends having your chimney cleaned and inspected each year. As you burn wood in your fireplace, the smoke that travels up your chimney leaves creosote deposits. Creosote is a thick, tarlike substance that is extremely flammable. Once creosote reaches a certain thickness, the heat of your fires can cause it to burn. While some chimney fires will shoot from the top of your chimney and sound like a freight train, others will burn more subtle, until they spread to the flammable materials of your home.

Even if you haven’t burned wood in your fireplace for year, or if you have a gas fireplace, your chimney should be inspected annually. Chimneys can become clogged with debris, or certain animals will nest inside, causing a fire hazard. Your annual inspection also will identify any structural damage or weaknesses, or signs of a past, undetected chimney fire, that could make your chimney unsafe.

Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning

Any time fuel is burned, whether its gas, wood, or wood pellets, carbon monoxide is released. That carbon monoxide should travel up your chimney, but if your chimney is blocked from creosote, and animal’s nest, or a faulty flue, carbon monoxide could be forced back into your home. Carbon monoxide can cause drowsiness, headaches, and nausea, but in extreme cases, it can lead to death. Having your chimney cleaned and inspected annual ensures that your flue is cleared to allow gases to escape.

Detect potential problems

Your annual chimney and fireplace inspection can detect problems with your fireplace or chimney that you may not notice — yet. Your certified chimney sweep inspects all areas of your fireplace, stove, and chimney. He may detect a leak, a crack, or a blocked vent that can be easily fixed at this point, but down the road could lead to costly repairs to your chimney or your home.

Keep your fireplace running efficiently

Especially if you have a gas fireplace, stove, or fireplace insert, your annual cleaning and inspection removes dust and debris from vents or moving parts that can cause wear and tear on your fireplace or stove and keep it from running efficiently. Having all of your fireplace, insert, or stove components cleaned and serviced helps you get the most heat for the least amount of fuel, saving you money and keeping your home more comfortable.

If you have been putting off your annual cleaning and inspection, call the certified chimney sweeps at Total Chimney Care. We’ll make sure your fireplace and chimney are ready to burn safely this winter.

By Steve Sobczak on November 29th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Hazards

How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Hazards - Fairfield New Haven CT - Total Chimney CareAccording to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 200 carbon monoxide -related deaths occur annually, due to inadequate safety awareness in the public. Other agencies estimate that the number of deaths could be as high as 4,000. Why are these figures so high? Unlike other poisonous gases, carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and virtually undetectable gas. It kills slowly, over time, with seemingly harmless symptoms and warning signs like dizziness or stomachache. Many homeowners don’t realize where this threat comes from or how to avoid it.

Where The Threat Lies

When winter comes, you close the windows and set the thermostat to 70 degrees. But, have you given much thought to whether or not your furnace’s chimney flue is clean and ready to properly exhaust? Today’s gas or oil heating systems might be highly efficient, but if the chimney and connector pipe are not inspected and cleaned at periodic intervals, carbon monoxide poisoning can be a very real threat. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t realize this threat, and don’t make furnace flue sweeping appointments a priority.

Why The Threat Is Higher Than Before

Even though today’s home heating systems are incredibly efficient, today’s homes are designed and built to be more air tight than ever before. The reason for this is that air tight homes help conserve energy and keep utilities low. But, there is a downside. Air tight homes don’t allow much fresh air in or much polluted air out. Without fresh air, the furnace may be starved for oxygen, which will lead to incomplete fuel burn and the production of carbon monoxide. Worse still, if the heating system’s chimney is clogged, dirty, or otherwise blocked, this carbon monoxide will seep back into the home’s air supply instead of escaping through the furnace’s exhaust system.

What Can Be Done?

The best thing to do to keep your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning low is to make annual chimney inspections and cleanings a priority in your home. Many homeowners assume that the oil or gas technician inspects and cleans the flue when delivering fuel – but this is simply not the case. So, before closing the windows for the season and cranking up the thermostat, give Chimney Saver Solutions a call! We’ll inspect your furnace’s exhaust system and remove any buildup or debris that could negatively impact its function. Call us today!

By Steve Sobczak on September 8th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

The Importance of Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

No matter what time of the year, house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning are very real dangers. However, homeowners must take extra precaution this time of year because every home is running a furnace, boiler, fireplace or wood stove. While these heating appliances help people survive in the most frigid weather, they also pose a threat to survival with the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. To stay warm and safe this winter, install and test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Safety - New Haven & Fairfield CT - Total Chimney CareIn the case of an unintentional house fire, people living in the house have a few short minutes at best to escape the building. To help maximize the time the inhabitants have for escape, every level of the house should be equipped with a smoke detector, in addition to inside every bedroom and outside the sleeping area. Each smoke detector should be tested once per month and totally replaced at least every 10 years. Having working smoke detectors in the house actually doubles the odds of survival in reported house fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Possibly more dangerous than house fires, carbon monoxide is another serious safety threat during the winter months. The gas has no color, smell or taste, which means your body cannot detect carbon monoxide unless signs of poisoning have started to set in. Therefore, unlike a fire, you cannot immediately tell your life is in danger. Because of this insidious threat, the home must be equipped with updated carbon monoxide detectors.

Every type of burning creates carbon monoxide. Hence, a poorly venting chimney could cause your gas or wood burning fireplace to pour carbon monoxide into the living space. A gas furnace with a hole in the fire chamber could mean unhealthy concentrations of carbon monoxide. During a power outage, using a propane lantern to gather the family together could potentially be lethal.

Inhaling carbon monoxide prevents oxygen from entering the blood stream. The more you breathe, the more evident the lack of oxygen becomes. First, carbon monoxide poisoning feels like dizziness, vertigo and nausea. These initial signs can be reversed by moving to an open outdoor area, but all too often, the poisoning progresses to a loss of consciousness and chances of reversal become quite dim. Eventually, the organs begin to fail and death quickly ensues. This entire process can actually happen in just one minute if the concentration of carbon monoxide is high enough

The hazards of fire and carbon monoxide must be respected. Maintaining and updating smoke and carbon monoxide detectors around the house is vital to staying safe, but you can also protect your family by educating everyone on the proper safety in case of an emergency. These simple measures can save lives. For more information on smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, contact the local fire department or Total Chimney Care of New Haven, Connecticut.

By Steve Sobczak on December 17th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Air Quality Indoors

Do you think the air you breathe inside is cleaner than the air outdoors? Sometimes the air quality in your home is compromised, especially when you don't pay attention to your fireplace and chimney.

Do you think the air you breathe inside is cleaner than the air outdoors? Sometimes the air quality in your home is compromised, especially when you don’t pay attention to your fireplace and chimney.

Imagine you’re sitting in front of your fireplace on a blustery winter night. You have a roaring fire going, the flue is adjusted perfectly so no smoke is billowing into the house, logs are burning evenly, and you’re enjoying the warmth and the intoxicating scent of wood burning. That last little bit of information, however, is a real sign of danger, as being able to smell a wood fire burning in the fireplace, even in small amounts, is a sure sign that your chimney is not functioning properly.

Dangerous Combustion Byproducts

Fireplaces provide a lot of things we want: heat, light, ambiance, and a soothing crackle. The combustion happening in the fireplace, however, also provides byproducts we don’t want or need—smoke and toxic gases. Wood smoke in your home contains one or more of the following: hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that can cause cancer, fine particle pollution (ash) that damages lung tissue and creates respiratory problems, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO), formaldehyde, and/or nitrogen oxides. It is your chimney’s job to contain and remove those byproducts from your home. A poorly performing chimney is allowing those harmful byproducts to remain in your living space, thereby diminishing the quality of the air in your home.

Indoor Air Quality and your Health

Your poorly functioning chimney inevitably has a negative effect on the quality of the air in your home, especially for children, elderly family members, and those with lung cancer and/or heart disease. Smoke can have a marked effect on people with respiratory issues (e.g., asthma). Another major concern of a poorly functioning chimney is that it can allow colorless, odorless—and toxic—CO gases to remain in your home. It is a natural byproduct of the wood burning process, and, because you cannot see or smell it, it can make you sick without your even knowing it’s there. As a matter of fact, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can even be deadly.

Small Things All Homeowners Can Do

There are small things you as a homeowner can do to improve the quality of the air in your home. Open the flue when using your fireplace. Have your chimney and fireplace inspected by a CSIA-certified technician annually to keep it running at the optimal level. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home if you don’t have them installed already. Improved ventilation will improve air quality by increasing the amount of fresh outdoor air coming into your home, which will help to dilute the concentrations of indoor pollutants and push stale indoor air out of your home. It’s also extremely important to make sure that the chimney is properly sealed. A well-vented, tight-fitting fireplace/chimney combination will move those harmful gases up and out of your home, which will greatly improve the overall quality of the air remaining inside.

Yearly chimney inspections and cleanings will go a long way to improving the overall indoor air quality in your home. The trained staff at Total Chimney Care is at the ready to help you increase the overall air quality in your home with the extensive list of fireplace and chimney services. Contact us today to schedule all of your necessary services.