While chimneys are great additions that can make a home more cozy and pleasant, they can also pose a threat to your well-being if you don’t properly maintain the fireplace. A dirty chimney and fireplace can affect you and your family’s health. Familiarize yourself with the risks a filthy fireplace has on your health so that you can prevent any of these concerns from happening to your family. After reading this guide, you’ll never forget to clean your chimney and fireplace again.

Concerns and Risks of a Dirty Chimney and Fireplace in Your Home

Leaving the soot and other byproducts from your fires to build up inside your chimney and fireplace is never great for the structure of your home. The excess byproduct inside the flue, called creosote, is highly combustible, meaning it will ignite if the temperature inside the fireplace is high enough. When this happens, there is a very high chance your home will catch fire.

House fires are typically the number one concern for most homeowners because one spark or mistake could send the whole house up in flames, causing you to lose everything. The risk of a dirty chimney starting a fire outside the fireplace and burning down your home is a risk you should not be willing to take. So, don’t leave the creosote to build up or tell yourself you’ll get to it later; clean it as often as you can to avoid the biggest disaster of them all.

Other than house fires, another concern a dirty chimney presents for your home is that smoke will back puff into your house. Usually, buildup inside the structure will create a large enough obstruction that prevents the smoke from your fires from exiting the home safely. Instead of the smoke traveling up and out through your chimney, it will billow back into the room, leaving residue and a horrid smokey smell that’s almost impossible to get rid of. Avoid these issues by regularly cleaning your fireplace and receiving an annual chimney sweep from a professional to ensure the structure is pristine and in working condition.

Concerns and Risks of a Dirty Chimney and Fireplace on Your Health

A dirty chimney and fireplace not only threaten the safety of your home but also affect your health—and not in a good way. Take an in-depth look at the various concerns a dirty fireplace has for the health of you and your family.

Exposure to Creosote

Not only will too much creosote increase the chance of a house fire starting, but the byproduct can also cause many health problems. Touching this oily, tar-like substance with your bare skin will cause irritation and the development of a rash or other skin issues.

Debris can also fall into your eyes, which could potentially give you a chemical burn or other burning sensations. This is why technicians wear safety goggles to prevent anything from lodging into their eyes and causing irritation.

Inhaling the creosote particles could cause other problems to be concerned with. For instance, inhaling this substance could cause repository issues for the individual and abdominal pain if ingested. The Environmental Protection Agency has also determined that creosote is a probable human carcinogen—even more reason to clean and remove it as soon as it builds up!

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a gas that forms when your fire does not completely combust due to not having enough oxygen to start the process of oxidation. This gas is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, making it nearly impossible to detect. Breathing in this hazardous gas is extremely dangerous to your family’s health.

When you have carbon monoxide poisoning, you will experience flu-like symptoms such as a headache, weakness, dizziness, chest pain, and vomiting. Breathing in an excessive amount of this gas can also lead to much more severe symptoms, such as organ failure. The more you inhale this gas, the more it will affect your health—too much carbon monoxide can cause brain damage, heart issues, and even death.

We recommend keeping your carbon monoxide detector up to date and remembering to change out the batteries for fresh ones every year. This detector will be a lifeline for you because it will beep when your fire produces this dangerous gas.

Soot Inhalation

Soot isn’t as worrisome as creosote, but this fire byproduct is still an irritant that can affect your health. Soot forms when the wood on your fire doesn’t burn hot enough. It looks dusty and powdery and will stick to the inside walls of your chimney and sometimes gets into the air of your home.

Inhaling high amounts of soot will cause irritation; in very severe cases, soot inhalation can even cause lung disease. Inhaling soot will cause respiratory issues and infections. Remember to either clean your chimney after each fire or seek help through a professional chimney cleaning in Oregon.

Histoplasmosis From Chimney Swifts

You might be wondering what histoplasmosis is and what a chimney swift is. A chimney swift is a bird that commonly makes its home inside chimneys. When they leave, their droppings can cause histoplasmosis. Histoplasmosis is a respiratory infection caused by a fungus.

Again, the symptoms of this repository infection are very similar to the flu. Individuals with histoplasmosis may experience a chronic cough, chest pain, fever, sweats, chills, and lack of appetite. Chimney swifts are federally protected animals, and you cannot extract them from your chimney yourself unless there you gain a permit from your state’s DNR. Otherwise, these creatures need to leave of their own volition. So, if you know these birds are living inside the structure, and you’re experiencing symptoms like those listed above, you may have histoplasmosis and should see a doctor immediately.

A dirty chimney and fireplace affect your health in many ways. Keeping this structure clean and in tip-top shape will prevent these issues from arising. Remember to clean out the flue after each fire, receive an annual inspection and cleaning from a professional service, change out the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and never burn anything you’re not supposed to.

How a Dirty Chimney and Fireplace Affect Your Health