It’s hard to believe that it’s already the holiday season, but here we are! While you’re trying to stay warm, keep track of the best deals, and grab supplies for that glorious meal, have you forgotten something important? When jolly old St. Nick comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve, will he end up covered in soot? Is there any buildup or blockages that might make it harder on Santa during that busy night?
Don’t end up on the naughty list this season. Even if you don’t believe in Mr. Claus, there are many reasons why it’s a good idea to have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned — especially if you plan on staying warm and roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Not only will a clean chimney help your home feel fresher, it could also make your home safer for the holidays.
“The Christmas Song” is one of the most classic carols you’ll hear this time of year, but when the lyrics mention “tiny tots with their eyes all aglow,” you don’t want it to be because they are witnessing a house fire. It’s a grim image, but also a reality for many families between now and New Year’s Day.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, dirty chimneys account for six percent of all house fires. They also note that “in the reported 25,000 cases of chimney fires between 2011 and 2015, there was an accompanying loss of 120 million dollars in property damage.” Soot residue, a contributing factor to chimney fires, should not be more than ¼ thick and can be properly managed through regular cleaning.
Have You Heard of Creosote?
Another potential problem associated with dirty chimneys is the exposure to creosote. The tar-like substance is flammable and can cause skin and eye irritation on contact, causing damage similar to that of chemical burns. On top of that, exposure to creosote may cause you to experience a host of other health problems ranging from difficulty breathing to skin cancer.
Every time you light a fire, creosote is deposited into your chimney. Left unchecked, it will gradually build up and could not only block your chimney, but possibly ignite and start a fire. This is a serious but preventable problem. Be proactive and avoid this risk!
How About Histoplasmosis?
If you’ve ever seen a Chimney Swift, you’ll know that they are the cutest little brownish-black birds. They might flit around from place to place, but their favorite spot to call home is inside a chimney. While they make themselves comfortable, they also leave behind their droppings, which can contain histoplasmosis.
The fungus can wreak havoc on your health and bring on a chronic cough, fever/chills, lack of appetite, and a respiratory infection that mimics a cold or flu. The last thing you need during the holidays is to make everyone in your home sick. Keep your chimney clean, including being free of nests, and you can help prevent these problems.
When people think of the dirt inside chimneys, most often they’re thinking about soot. If you’ve ever watched Mary Poppins, you’ll know that Bert, the lovable chimney sweep, was covered in it. Unlike Bert, though, Santa won’t be singing “Chim Chim Cheree” if he climbs down inside a chimney filled with soot.
Instead, he’ll likely be hacking his way down the fireplace! Soot contains potent toxins, and inhalation can lead to lung hazards and diseases, as well as respiratory infections. Give everyone the “Silent Night” they deserve — clean the chimney and skip the coughing!
We’ve tried to keep this blog post relatively lighthearted, but there’s one thing we just can’t joke about — carbon monoxide poisoning. If you smell smoke when you burn a fire and notice soot buildup in and around your fireplace, it’s a sign that your chimney is blocked. When this happens, your home won’t have proper ventilation, putting your family at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Leave your home immediately if anyone experiences a sudden onset of the following symptoms:
- Flu-like symptoms
It is cold and flu season, so the symptoms may not be related to carbon monoxide poisoning, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Remember, carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, meaning that it can spread throughout your home without you noticing. Exposure can result in heart and brain damage or even death.
The best things you can do to reduce your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is to have your fireplace and HVAC system serviced and cleaned on a regular basis. Additionally, always make sure that your carbon monoxide detectors are in perfect working condition. Test them at the beginning of each season and never remove the batteries.
HVAC Experts in Richmond, Virginia
This year, help make the holiday season merry and bright by keeping the indoor air quality inside your home fresh and clean. We understand that this is a busy time, and we’re here to help with all of your HVAC needs.
W.G. Speeks has spent more than 75 Christmases proudly serving the residents of the Greater Richmond Region. We offer a free consultation in order to provide guidance tailored to your specific needs. Our NATE-certified technicians are committed to excellence and creating the best experience for our great community. Give us a call today. Happy holidays!