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The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Too much exposure to carbon monoxide is toxic

Too much exposure to carbon monoxide is toxic

Carbon monoxide leaks pose serious dangers to you and your loved ones’ health, and these dangers include death. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission claims over 200 Americans die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning from malfunctioning heating appliances and venting system issues. Additionally, over 10,000 carbon monoxide-related injuries are reported every year. Preventing these dangers is one of the main reason you should schedule an annual chimney sweeping and inspection from Aelite Chimney Specialties every year. We can find things that cause carbon monoxide to leak into your home, such as a cracked flue liner, a chimney blockage, and problems with the chimney and the connector pipe. Our certified technicians can also repair these issues to protect you against the dangers of carbon monoxide. We would like to tell you more about carbon monoxide poisoning and its health hazards.

What Carbon Monoxide Does to Your Body

Many of us know that too much carbon monoxide in the bloodstream is deadly; however, few understand that even a low-level exposure to this toxic gas can harm your body. Breathing in carbon monoxide is so dangerous because hemoglobin, a protein in your blood, will always latch on to carbon monoxide and ignore oxygen when given the choice between the two.This means your body replaces life-giving oxygen with poisonous carbon monoxide, and this causes the suffocation of cells, with the severity depending on the intensity and duration of the exposure to the toxic gas.

The Trouble with Diagnosing Low-Level Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

With symptoms such as headache, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea, low-level carbon monoxide poisoning is often mistaken as the flu or a common cold, and, unfortunately, it can take some time to make the correct diagnosis. Since low-level carbon monoxide poisoning can cause permanent brain and/or organ damage, diagnosing the problem can be crucial, Also, the longer it is misdiagnosed, the longer the exposure to carbon monoxide. The only way to determine the issue is due to carbon monoxide exposure is a blood test.

Helpful Tips to Distinguish Between Low-Level Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and the Flu or the Common Cold

If you are showing symptoms of carbon monoxide but were diagnosed with the flu or a cold, but two weeks later, you show no improvement, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) suggests three questions you should ask yourself about your symptoms:

Do I have a fever? If your answer is “yes,” you have the flu or a bad cold. Carbon monoxide poisoning will not elevate your temperature, so if your answer is “no,” you should ask your doctor to test the carbon monoxide levels in your blood.
Do my symptoms improve when I leave the house? If carbon monoxide is leaking into your home, you will feel badly as you are exposed to the toxic gas at home. If your symptoms lessen whenever you are away from your house, most likely you are suffering from low-level carbon monoxide poisoning. Again, ask your doctor to check your blood for carbon monoxide levels.
Are my pets also getting sick? Cats and dogs are not affected by the flu virus, so if your pets seem ill as well. there is a strong possibility carbon monoxide is leaking into your home.

Keep carbon monoxide out of your house. Contact Aelite Chimney Specialties to schedule your annual chimney cleaning and inspection to protect you from carbon monoxide leaks.

Does Your Chimney Have Mold?

Mold in Chimney

Any trapped moisture in your home could be growing mold and deteriorating the quality of air in your home. Any mold growing in your home is serious and should be detected and removed immediately. Mold can produce respiratory problems and even some long term health effects. One of the biggest reasons for moisture or water entering the home is the most exposed to the elements structure in your home – your chimney.

Anytime moisture is trapped in your chimney, it provides a breeding ground for mold.

Anytime moisture is trapped in your chimney, it provides a breeding ground for mold.

Detecting Mold

Mold is usually detected first by discoloration of ceilings and walls and can vary in color from white, black, or green. Fungi spores will also have a musty odor that is quite unpleasant. Cracks in paint or peeling might also appear around walls where mold is present. A white crystal like powder substance might also appear on bricks or mortar that does not give off an odor that is called efflorescence. Although this substance is NOT mold and mostly harmless, it IS and indicator of water leaks. If any discoloration around the mortar and bricks of the chimney, an inspection is recommended by a chimney professional, especially if water leaks or mold are suspected.

Mold and Health Problems

Exposure to mold can cause serious health problems including respiratory problems as well as nasal and sinus congestion. In a few instances, some might have allergic reaction to mold that results in headaches, cough, and irritation from the skin or throat. These symptoms might  be an indicator of mold in the home if not already detected. Seek a physician immediately if any negative reactions to exposure to mold occur.

Causes of Mold

Trapped moisture is always the cause of growing mold, but the million dollar question is where is the moisture getting in? It is not always easy to detect, but water always follows the path of least resistance. Professionals look for cracks, and a popular area for water to leak in is the flashing or area where the chimney is attached to the roof. Weathering and exposure to the elements of rain and snow can cause the flashing to develop cracks creating an area for moisture to get in the home. Whatever the reason, trapped moisture can cause mold to spread to the walls and ceilings, where it is the most difficult to treat and clean up.

Cleaning Up Mold

Cleaning mold is a dangerous job because of the risk of exposure to the toxic mold spores and should be done by a professional or with the utmost protection from skin, eyes, and lungs. Detection and fixing of the leak where the water is entering the home should be done first before cleaning mold. Making sure there are no leaks ensures clean up will only have to be done once. Water and a non-ammonia soap or detergent is all that is required to clean mold. After cleaning, the area should also be treated with a mild solution of water and bleach to completely disinfect the area.

Preventing Mold

In most cases, if a leak is fixed mold will stop growing. Keeping a dry home within 40-60 percent also keeps any type of mold growing. This can be done by using dehumidifiers if necessary in higher humidity climates. Never use carpet in bathrooms or basements and use mold repellent paint.

Keeping you home free from mold will keep you and your family healthy as well as protect your house for many years.