Hiring a chimney sweep to clean your chimney not only reduces the risk of fire in your home but also helps protect your health and the health of your family members. Since there are various health problems to which a dirty chimney can contribute, it makes sense to include the services of a professional chimney cleaner as part of your family's preventive health care.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
It's important to have your chimney inspected by a certified chimney professional each year and cleaned as needed. Otherwise, if debris blocks the chimney, carbon monoxide can build up inside your home. Because carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, unless you have a carbon monoxide alarm – preferably one on each floor of your home – the gas can go undetected, leading to more than 20,000 visits to hospital emergency departments in the U.S. each year.
Breathing in carbon monoxide can make you sick or fall unconscious. Carbon monoxide poisoning causes flu-like symptoms including dizziness, headache, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. You may also suffer chest pain or become confused. Breathing in even small amounts of carbon monoxide over time can cause heart problems or brain damage. Exposure to carbon monoxide fumes in large quantities when you are sleeping can kill you.
Respiratory Infections/Lung Disease
Creosote/Soot Health Hazards
Creosote – the tarry, black substance that can build up inside a chimney flue – can irritate the respiratory tract and cause respiratory problems if you breathe in creosote fumes over time. In some people, prolonged exposure to creosote vapors can lead to lung disease. Inhaling soot particles – the powdery black dust that clings to the inside walls of chimneys – can also irritate the lungs if particles escape into the air inside your home.
Both creosote and soot are byproducts of incomplete combustion of fuels such as wood and coal. Burning seasoned, dry hardwood and having your chimney cleaned on a regular basis slows the buildup of creosote. Burning fuels at hotter temperatures also deposits less creosote on the walls of your chimney.
Histoplasmosis is another potential health hazard associated with chimneys. Although histoplasmosis is a fungal respiratory infection caused by the droppings of chimney swifts – small birds that like to build their nests in chimneys – the infection can spread outside the lungs to other parts of the body. Children under the age of 2 or members of your household who have cancer, HIV, or are older than age 55 are at higher risk of developing a severe infection, which can be life-threatening.
Similar to carbon monoxide poisoning, histoplasmosis causes flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills or sweats, and stomach upset. The infection can also lead to weight loss or cause muscle aches, chest pain, and a chronic cough.
If chimney swifts get inside your chimney, after the baby birds leave the nest, hire a professional chimney sweep – who will wear protective gear – to clean up hazardous bird droppings. To prevent problems from the start, close off the top of your chimney by installing a chimney cover and screen to keep birds and other small critters from getting inside.Share
29 August 2016
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