Our Company Blog

Carbon Monoxide Dangers

Most homeowners understand there are certain maintenance tasks that must be completed to keep their fireplaces burning safely and efficiently, such as checking masonry for signs of damage or having their chimneys regularly swept. However, many do not know about the dangers they can face from improperly venting carbon monoxide gas.

Although it can be deadly, carbon monoxide poisoning is rarely discussed in the media. This dangerous gas causes thousands to be hospitalized each year, killing as many as 400 people annually. Thankfully, there are a number of steps homeowners can take to protect the safety of themselves and their families against this potentially deadly gas.


What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is produced by combustion reactions. Because it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, it is often referred to as the “silent killer”; without proper equipment, such as a carbon monoxide detector, it is impossible to identify.

Because carbon monoxide is produced in all combustion reactions, many appliances in your home may produce it. Fireplaces, stoves, furnaces, boilers, outdoor grills, space heaters, and vehicles all produce carbon monoxide gas. However, when regularly maintained and properly vented these appliances pose little to no risk of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning closely mimic that of the flu. After small amounts of exposure, people will begin to experience headaches, nausea, and drowsiness. As exposure continues, these symptoms will continue to worsen and begin to include impaired coordination and vision as well as shortness of breath or dizziness. In high concentrations or when exposed over a long period of time, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause come or death.

What to do if you experience these symptoms

If you are using a fuel-burning appliance such as a fireplace or space heater and begin to experience any of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, move immediately to a fresh air location such as outdoors or near an open window. Before reentering your home, contact emergency services or the poison control center.

How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

There are a number of common sense ways that families can reduce their risk of exposure to carbon monoxide.

  • Have fireplaces, chimneys, or other vented appliances regularly inspected to ensure that all vents are clear from damage and blockages.
  • Never leave vehicles idling in a garage, even if the garage door is open.
  • Place carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home, especially near appliances such as furnaces or water heaters or outside sleeping areas. Carbon monoxide detectors should be tested every six months, replacing batteries as needed.
  • Never operate fuel-burning appliances such as grills or generators in an enclosed space or near an open window.

To have the safety of your fireplace, stove, or other heating appliance evaluated, contact Pristine Sweeps. Our certified staff can help give you and your family the peace of mind to enjoy your fireplace without the worry of exposure to carbon monoxide.

Fire Safety

Fireplaces are beautiful additions to any living space. They create warmth, add ambiance, and have a way of bringing people together. However, they can create a safety hazard when not used or maintained correctly.

The following five safety tips are just a few of the many ways to ensure you are safely using your fireplace system. By following these fire safety tips, you and your family can feel more secure when using and enjoying your fireplace.


1. Burn the right material

Homeowners should only burn seasoned firewood. Firewood that has been seasoned has been chopped, stacked, and exposed to the elements for at least six months to reduce its moisture content. Seasoned firewood ignites quickly, burns hotter, and produces less smoke and creosote than freshly cut or green wood.

2. Keep kids away

Small children and pets should never be left unsupervised around a fireplace while it is in use. Grates, gates, or safety barriers are also recommended to keep little hands away from open flames. Likewise, safety gates should also be used with gas fireplaces or inserts. While these appliances do not have open flames, the glass fronts can become extremely hot and cause severe burns when touched. Placing a decorative gate or grate in front of the fireplace while it is in use greatly reduces the burn risk for children and pets.

3. Move the décor

While hanging décor from the mantle is a charming way to decorate your home, these decorations should be moved when the fireplace is in use. Furniture, drapes, or other home accents that are too close to the fireplace are at risk of being damaged or ignited by stray sparks or embers from the fireplace. Keep your home’s décor at least three feet away from the firebox, and remove any items that extend over the edge of the mantel while the fireplace is in use.

4. Regularly test alarms

Homes with a fireplace should have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of the home, near sleeping areas, and close to the location of the fuel burning appliance. These alarms should be tested at least once every six months to ensure that they are still working properly, replacing batteries as needed. In addition, it is recommended to replace smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every five to seven years. Doing this ensures that you have alarms that meet current safety standards.

5. Call a chimney sweep

Regular chimney maintenance also reduces the risk for chimney fire. During a yearly sweeping, a certified chimney sweep will remove any creosote from the inside of the flue. This tarry substance is a natural byproduct of fuel burning fires, but is also highly flammable; ignition of creosote is one of the main causes of chimney fire. Chimney sweeps

If you have questions about the safety or efficiency of your fireplace, call Pristine Sweeps to inspect or evaluate your system. Our expert staff can not only clean your chimney, but can also help diagnose and repair long term issues such as water entry or drafting problems. Contact us today to make sure your fireplace and chimney are safe for you and your family to use and enjoy!