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Chimney Health Hazards You Should Know About

Many homeowners understand how a dirty chimney affects their fireplace. However, few realize it can also have an impact on your overall health. Creosote buildup, animal entry, and more are all chimney hazards. These hazards can affect the health and safety of your family and friends, as well as negatively affect your chimney system!

Chimney Health Hazards

Fireplaces are meant to be enjoyed, but when not properly maintained they can pose a risk to our health.

The following are four of the most common chimney health hazards, their causes, and how to prevent them:

  1.  Creosote exposure.
    Creosote is a black, tarry substance that is created naturally as a byproduct of fuel burning fires. While present in small amounts in most fireplaces, flammable creosote becomes dangerous if allowed to accumulate without regular sweepings. In addition to increasing the risk of chimney fire, creosote can negatively affect your health. Skin and eye irritation, as well as respiratory issues, can be caused by exposure to creosote. While creosote may be present in the flue, exposure is often caused by homeowners attempting to improperly remove creosote themselves.
  2. Smoke and soot inhalation.
    Smoke and soot are a part of every fire. However, what happens if your chimney is not drafting properly? These byproducts of combustion can wind up affecting your home’s air supply. Smoke and soot inhalation can cause respiratory problems such as bronchitis, as well as aggravate long-term conditions such as asthma and allergies.
  3. Carbon monoxide.
    Carbon monoxide poisoning is a rare but serious health hazard that can occur from all fuel-burning appliances – not just fireplaces or stoves! If the venting system is damaged or the flue is blocked, poisoning carbon monoxide gas can back up into the home. It’s known as the “silent killer” because it is colorless, tasteless, and odorless. Unfortunately, the presence of carbon monoxide gas can only be detected using special equipment. All homes should have carbon monoxide detectors on every floor, as well as outside sleeping areas. Exposure to carbon monoxide often mimics flu-like symptoms. These can include headaches, nausea, and fatigue. Consequently, prolonged or repeated exposure can lead to organ damage, coma, and even death.
  4. Animal entry.
    Birds, raccoons, squirrels, and other small animals love to take refuge in chimneys. In addition to causing damage to the chimney system, these wild animals also carry disease! The droppings of chimney swifts, for example, are known to cause histoplasmosis. Created by a fungus found in the droppings, histoplasmosis can cause chronic cough, chest pain, fever, loss of appetite, and more.

We Can Help Keep You Safe

While the health hazards that can occur with using your chimney should not be ignored, they should not stop you from enjoying your fireplace. Instead, regular cleaning and maintenance can keep your chimney system burning safely and efficiently for years to come. For more information on chimney health hazards, or to schedule your next fireplace maintenance, contact Clean Sweeps of Michigan today!

When Animals Live in Your Chimney

Animals in Chimney

There is nothing cute or cuddly about animals in chimneys. Thankfully, the vast majority of homeowners realize that, even if they are not fully aware of the danger that animal intrusions pose to a fireplace system. Unfortunately, too many undertake the removal of animals from their chimneys themselves, placing themselves in harm’s way and often inadvertently causing more damage.

Removing Animals from your Chimney - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps

Removing Animals from your Chimney – Ann Arbor MI – Clean Sweeps

A Difficult and Dangerous Position to Be In

Extracting a live animal from a place like a chimney, where it is completely cornered and surrounded, is extremely difficult and dangerous. Removing a dead one, along with associated debris, droppings, and snagged tufts of fur, is difficult and altogether unpleasant. Both are difficult and both are hazardous for your chimney as well if you do not know what you are doing.

Animal extraction for chimneys should always be handled by certified chimney professionals. If the animal is alive, its humane handling is guaranteed and all involved are less likely to be injured. Homeowners worried about what happens after removal can relax as well, because animals not ready to be released back into the wild are first taken to vets or local shelters.

Concern for the animals in their chimneys is often the reason homeowners do not call for professional help. Certified chimney sweeps, however, are specifically skilled in this, have experience and love animals as much as you do! Furthermore, they are highly trained to examine the condition of your chimney once the animal has been removed, and this is critical.

Now the Animal is Gone, What Now?

The same claws that can scratch you up so badly may have done the same thing to the interior of your chimney. Even the animal’s movement and tight turns in such a small space could have damaged your flue. Extracting the animal – dead or alive – is first. After that, a professional sweep can inspect if any impairment was caused by the animal and what can be done to restore maximum safety and efficiency to your chimney.

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