Your fireplace is probably your best friend during the winter months.
With Christmas trees and presents all around your fireplace, cozy winter evenings curled up in your living room, and countless other memorable times that you may have spent around it, your fireplace really is an integral part of your home.
However, as important as it may be, the sad reality is that though most homeowners enjoy the benefits of their fireplaces, they don’t get them cleaned or inspected regularly— mostly because they don’t understand the impact that dirty chimneys have on their health.
A chimney needs to be cleaned regularly, even if it’s just used once a year or is functioning without any problems.
How Is Chimney Cleaning Performed?
A regular chimney cleaning or inspection is performed by a trained and certified chimney sweep. Professional and often having a lot of experience, chimney sweeps will be able to understand the type of services that you need. They’ll opt for the correct tools when cleaning your chimney to remove all layers of dirt, debris, soot, and creosote buildup from your chimney flue. They’ll have goggles, protective masks and wear, different chimney brushes, and so on, and perform your chimney cleaning efficiently.
Many homeowners opt for a chimney sweep because they don’t understand the technical workings of their fireplaces. A chimney sweep will also be able to point out any damage or repair that’s required for your fireplace, ensuring the health and safety of your family. They’ll be able to point out cracks in tiles, mortar, and masonry damage, prompting you to take immediate action to protect your home and your family.
Chimney cleaning primarily centers on two tasks:
- Removing creosote, a sticky tarry substance that’s highly flammable and a toxic by-product of smoke from the chimney flue, and
- Getting rid of all the unwanted dirt and debris such as animal nests, leaves, and so on.
A chimney that isn’t cleaned and inspected regularly is at a high risk of chimney fires. With chimney fires leading to 25,000 house fires annually, it’s safe to say that chimney cleaning and inspection are necessary.
Additionally, the health of your chimney affects the health of your house. Here are a couple of hazards that dirty chimneys pose to you and your family:
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
When creosote buildup, soot, and other debris block your chimney flue, the toxic gases may begin to back up into your home. This is because the airflow in your flue is so restricted that the gases are unable to escape, and can lead to a buildup of carbon monoxide in the home.
Carbon monoxide is accompanied by smoke, and is invisible to the naked eye, and carries no smell either, which is why it can easily go undetected. Unless your home has a carbon monoxide detector, you won’t be able to tell whether or not the gas is in your home, and will probably end up inhaling it. Inhaling too much carbon monoxide can result in carbon monoxide poisoning, and everyone living in your house, including your children and pets, is susceptible to it. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include, but are not limited to:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Blurred vision
- Loss of consciousness, and more.
Creosote is a natural combustion by-product and is produced due to the distillation of tar in wood. This oily buildup sticks to the inside of your chimney flue, and is highly flammable— even 1/8th of an inch of creosote in your chimney flue is dangerous.
When exposed to creosote for long periods of time, health issues can occur. Creosote can cause irritability in the lungs, and irritation to the eyes and skin. It can result in damage to the eyes, skin rashes, eye burns, kidney or liver problems, blisters, peeling, reddening of the skin, and much more.
Mold and mildew grow in damp areas with little to no ventilation, making your chimney their ideal home.
If you neglect cleaning your chimney regularly, it can lead to a lot of mold buildup in your flue, damaging the air quality of your home. Different types of molds, such as black mold can cause some serious issues, and mold removal is also considered a risky business.
Regular and long-term exposure to mold can result in:
- Mold poisoning or mycotoxicosis
- Allergy and irritation with symptoms such as watery eyes, skin rashes, sinusitis
- Fungal infection
- Memory loss
- Pulmonary hemorrhage in infants, and much more.
Soot, dirt, dust, mold, and other unwanted debris collected in a dirty chimney can lead to a lot of respiratory illnesses, as it damages the quality of ventilation and air in a home.
Inhaling creosote often leads to breathing problems. This is because creosote can cause lung and other respiratory issues, making it difficult for one to breathe properly. Those who have asthma or similar lung issues are particularly at risk of being affected by dirty chimneys.
With COVID-19, a virus that affects the lungs and causes respiratory issues, ensuring your family’s safety should be your number one priority. Dirty and unkempt chimneys may result in respiratory illnesses, making one more susceptible to being affected by the virus, which in severe cases can even lead to death.
Hire Expert Chimney Inspectors and Cleaners
If you have a fireplace in your home that hasn’t been cleaned for a while, it’s critical that you have it cleaned ASAP. At Creative Masonry & Chimney, you’ll be able to find certified chimney sweeps for the entire CT area including West Hartford, Canton, Bristol, Simsbury, and Avon. We also offer masonry repair, chimney inspection, masonry construction services, and more in CT.
Get in touch with us at (860) 225-9178 to find out more.