Flu season has arrived here in the Louisville area, so it is only natural to believe that nausea, headaches, fatigue, and other symptoms you may be experiencing mean that you have come down with the flu. However, flu season coincides with fireplace season, and you could be suffering from the early phases of carbon monoxide poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 30,000 people in this country get sick every year from carbon monoxide poisoning, and even more seriously, approximately 430 people die from accidentally breathing this toxic gas. Sadly, many of these deaths occur in their own homes because of issues with their hearth heating appliances. Fortunately, All American Chimney Service is very aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO), and our team of chimney professionals has undergone educational training on what CO poisoning is and its common causes as related to natural draft appliances. Your safety is our top priority, and you can count on us to make sure your chimney and fireplace system work efficiently and safely. Since 2006, we have been providing the region with top quality professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation services, and we would like to share with you this important information about carbon monoxide poisoning to keep you and your family safe this winter.
What is carbon monoxide (CO)?
Since this poisonous gas is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, CO is also known as “the silent killer.” Any time you burn any type of carbon-based fuel, CO results from incomplete combustion. The most common sources of exposure to CO in your home are your furnace, your fireplace, and your hot water heater. Whenever these appliances are not vented properly, incomplete combustion occurs and produces CO. Even more dangerous, an improperly vented appliance cannot fully exhaust the poisonous gas out of your home. You may believe that since your living spaces are not directly exposed to your chimney, you are protected from this gas coming into your home, but a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association states that CO easily passes through drywall. The best way to ensure your family is safe from CO poisoning is to have your chimney professionally swept and inspected once a year by All American Chimney Service.
Why is CO so harmful?
The reason why this gas is so dangerous is that it binds to the hemoglobin in your bloodstream and prevents life-supporting oxygen from binding to it instead. When CO displaces oxygen in the blood, the heart, brain, and other vital organs are basically starved of what they need to properly function.
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
For most of us, the initial symptoms of exposure to CO are headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, confusion, and irritability. As we mentioned earlier, these symptoms are identical to the flu, and many times, CO poisoning goes undiagnosed. This can lead to even more exposure to this poisonous gas, which can cause organ failure and death. If you are suffering from flu-like symptoms that do not go away after two weeks, All American Chimney Service strongly recommends that you go back to your doctor and ask to be tested for CO poisoning to be sure that you have not been exposed to this toxic gas.
How can I keep my family safe from CO poisoning?
To stay protected from exposure to this poisonous gas inside your own home, the CDC strongly recommends that you have your chimney professionally swept and inspected at least once a year to ensure that it is venting as it should be. When you schedule this annual maintenance appointment with All American Chimney Service, you can rest easy knowing that we provide a cursory inspection of all atmospherically vented appliances as part of our basic services. We do this to verify that every appliance is maintained and performing properly. Since part of our primary duty as professional venting technicians is to check the indoor air quality of our customers’ homes, we use a small industrial-grade CO analyzer to take CO readings and record the CO levels found in the areas where the poisonous gas is most commonly produced, which includes the parts of your home where the furnace, hot water heater, and fireplace are located. If the levels are higher than 9 PPM, which is the maximum indoor CO level designated by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRE), we will recommend the best course of action to take for your situation.
All American Chimney Service also strongly recommends that you install carbon monoxide detector alarms throughout your home to prevent accidental exposure to this toxic combustion gas. To be fully protected, you should be sure to install these alarms on each level of your home, outside every sleeping area, and near your furnace, fireplace, and hot water heater. If the alarm should ever alert you to the presence of high CO levels in your home, evacuate immediately and contact your local emergency authorities. Do not go back inside your home until the authorities have declared the air quality to be safe.
Protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning this winter. Contact us today at All American Chimney Service to schedule your annual professional chimney maintenance services appointment. We are here for all of your comprehensive professional chimney and fireplace needs.