Lighting a fire on a cold night or turning on the furnace is a great way to stay warm. And, although these appliances can provide ambiance and relaxation, you may not be thinking about how your home’s chimney can expose you to the risks of carbon monoxide buildup and fire.
Usually, only fireplaces are associated with chimneys. However, other common appliances—such as furnaces, water heaters, wood burning stoves, pellet stoves and corn burners—also require outdoor chimneys, which are commonly called vents. All of these chimneys function similarly, and they require regular maintenance so that smoke and flue gases are ventilated properly.
Without regular maintenance, your chimneys can become damaged or obstructed by a buildup of creosote—an oily, black residue that is highly combustible and can block ventilation. Your chimneys should be inspected every year, preferably before winter sets in:
- Make sure that your appliances are connected to separate flues or ducts to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.
- Ensure that the interior metal liners of chimneys are in good condition and don’t have any cracks that could release carbon monoxide into your living areas.
- Inspect the upper openings of your chimneys, if possible. Make sure that the openings are clear of debris, such as leaves and nests.
- Have your chimneys cleaned to reduce the buildup of creosote.
- Contact a certified specialist to repair, replace and clean your chimneys. If chimneys aren’t maintained properly, they could become an even larger threat to your home.