Carbon Monoxide From Fireplace – Causes & Solutions

In this article, we’ll be discussing how to deal with carbon monoxide from a fireplace. Several other related areas will be covered as well.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a real health risk when operating a chimney. The condition of a chimney largely determines how safe or exposed you.

Are Certain Fuel Types More Prone to Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

In a fireplace, various fuel types are used. These range from pellets, coal, firewood, and gas. Now, the question of whether certain fuel types are more prone to cause carbon monoxide poisoning is a timely one.

Asides from electric fireplaces that generate zero smoke and zero emissions, all other fuel types listed pose potential carbon monoxide risk.

So, your fireplace and entire chimney system will need to be fortified or maintained to ensure proper ventilation of combustion gases.

About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is brought about by exposure to carbon monoxide coming from a fireplace. Based on a chimney design, this harmful gas is supposed to be channeled out of the chimney vent with smoke and other gases.

However, due to chimney and fireplace malfunction, such gases may circle back into your home when there are cracks or blockage to free air movement.

Unlike smoke which can be detected, carbon monoxide presence cannot be noticed by simply observing.

The reason for this is because carbon monoxide is tasteless, odorless, and colorless. With the increased accumulation of this gas within a chimney, the danger of exposure is high.

Although carbon monoxide inhalation is dangerous to everyone, certain categories of persons are more at risk.

They include persons with chronic heart disease, unborn babies, older adults, and kids. At high or severe levels of exposure, persons may be knocked out to unconsciousness.

  • How Carbon Monoxide Poisons

Whenever excess combustion fumes are inhaled from a fireplace, the oxygen within your red blood cells gets replaced with carbon monoxide. Now, body tissues need oxygen to function.

With the absence of oxygen in red blood cells, there’s none to supply to body tissues and organs.

What results is a situation where there are organ and tissue failure that can lead to death. This is a worst-case scenario that can be avoided or managed by ensuring proper ventilation.

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Measures To Contain Carbon Monoxide From Fireplace

Known as the “silent killer,” the presence of carbon monoxide within your home is highly dangerous.

One of the reasons why you should do all it takes to limit possible exposure to this gas is because it can build up to dangerous levels without your knowledge.

Luckily, there are solutions to this leaking problem.

One of the most common and effective ways to detect this gas is by installing carbon monoxide detectors. These devices help provide early warning to the slightest sign of carbon monoxide leaks.

With such warming sounded out, you’re left to take action by providing ample ventilation and get out of the vicinity in emergencies. Carbon monoxide detectors sound alarms that alert you to an anomaly.

  • Placing Carbon Monoxide Alarms in Each Room

You cannot be too careful when placing safety measures such as carbon monoxide alarms.

As such, it’s common to find homeowners having carbon monoxide alarms in each room. This is even more necessary when all such rooms have fireplaces.

The placement of carbon monoxide alarms is important. There’s an erroneous belief by many that carbon monoxide is heavier than air. Simply place this alarm wherever you wish including walls or ceiling.

All areas of a home should be fitted with these alarms to provide a maximum alert to carbon monoxide presence.

  • Alarms Must be Maintained

A malfunctioning alarm is as risky as having no alarms at all! You always need to be alerted when carbon monoxide leaks happen. Now, quite a lot can go wrong when it comes to carbon monoxide detectors.

Batteries may be dead or weak, or such devices may have reached their lifespan limit.

These situations will require appropriate action. In the case of dead batteries, replacements should be made as early as possible to aid normal functioning.

Luckily, some of the best alarm devices will alert you to weak batteries. A unique beep (different from those indicating carbon monoxide presence) is sounded out repeatedly.

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When an alarm reaches its lifespan limit, it also sounds out a unique alert. You’ll need to know what the different alert sounds mean. These come with the user manual accompanying the device.

For some devices, a single beep sounded out each minute alerts to low batteries.

5 beeps per minute tell you the device needs replacement as it has reached the end of its lifespan. You must know these sounds and the information they’re trying to convey.

This simple understanding enhances safety.

3 Causes Of Fireplace Carbon Monoxide

All along, we’ve been discussing the ways to detect and manage carbon monoxide coming from a fireplace. While that is important, the real focus should be on the cause.

There are several reasons why you may be exposed to carbon monoxide.

These include backdrafting or reverse airflow, cracked flue as well as obstructed chimneys. These situations are common and require appropriate action to have them resolved.

Let’s take a look at each;

  • Backdrafting

Backdrafting is a situation where there’s reverse airflow.

Here, instead of gases produced from combustion exiting the fireplace through the chimney, the reverse occurs. This is mostly caused when a home is tightly sealed that it affects the operation of the chimney.

When this is noticed, consider calling a chimney service to have your chimney and fireplace inspected. An appropriate solution is provided or reached.

  • Cracked Flue

Your chimney flue performs an important function in channeling hazardous gases out of your home. When this malfunctions or gets cracked, toxic fumes find their way indoors.

Observing a yearly inspection should help address these problems.

  • Obstructed Chimney

When a chimney is obstructed, there’s no way smoke and gases such as carbon monoxide can escape. Your immediate action should be to call a chimney sweep to have the obstruction cleared and the chimney cleaned.

Dealing with carbon monoxide from a fireplace is crucial to keeping yourself and your family safe. The tips provided above help you detect the issues as early as they occur and also provide far-reaching solutions to them.

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