Heating our homes. This is something that we often don’t even think about. With just a turn of a knob, a flip of a switch, or even taking a little more effort and building a fire in the fireplace. There it is – more heat! Unfortunately, sometimes this ease lets us forget that there are dangers that can accompany this luxury. We don’t give much consideration to these facts; unless we do regular maintenance, cleaning, and repair, our chimney and furnace exhaust system can cause serious health problems.

Carbon Monoxide

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced when you burn fuel. Albeit in your car, in your furnace, in your fireplace – anywhere you burn fuel. If this gas is allowed to build up in your home, you can become ill or even die. Excess levels of carbon monoxide can give you symptoms that resemble the flu: headache, weakness, chest pain, dizziness, and vomiting. This is because carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, these symptoms are often ignored. The trouble is, if left untreated, carbon monoxide can cause permanent damage to the brain, heart, and other organs. For those who are most helpless – infants and the elderly – are most susceptible to the harmful effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Respiratory Problems

Carbon monoxide isn’t the only danger that comes from a chimney system that is not maintained on a regular basis. When you burn a fire in your fireplace, sometimes that fire produces a lot of smoke. We all know that this is annoying. Your eyes water, you start to cough, your nose starts to run. In addition, it can be difficult to get that smoke smell out of your furniture. On the contrary, there are more serious health concerns that can be caused by too much smoke.

When the wood you are burning hasn’t been cured for a long enough period of time, the moisture in the wood can cause a smoky fire. One way to prevent this is to make sure that the wood that wood has been cured for at least six months, and even longer than that is better yet. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, smoke is made up of a complex mix of fire particles and gases which can get into your eyes and respiratory system. This can cause illnesses such as asthma attacks and bronchitis. Wood smoke can also contain toxins such as benzene, acrolein, and formaldehyde.


Fortunately, there are some easy solutions to these health concerns. Making sure that the wood that you burn is well-seasoned is one. Another solution is to make sure that your home is well-ventilated. This can be as simple as cracking a window when you use your fireplace. Make sure that your furnace and boiler system are in good condition. One of the easiest and most effective ways to make sure that these conditions don’t occur is to have your chimney inspected and cleaned on a yearly basis by CSIA certified technicians like those at Michael’s Chimney Service. The team at Michael’s works to stay on top of all of the latest techniques and procedures to make sure that your chimney and venting system are safe and running efficiently.