Now is a good time to check out your chimney, before winter comes and you really need it. Your family’s health and safety depend on all your chimneys and flues working properly. Why? Because all your fuel-burning equipment needs effective venting that safely carries dangerous exhaust gases outdoors. If anything interferes with your exhaust venting, incomplete or faulty combustion could occur and the poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) gas could be produced inside your home.
CO is an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas that is very toxic. Symptoms of CO poisoning are like those of the flu: headache, nausea, fatigue and drowsiness. While CO detectors are a good defense, of course the better alternative is prevention.
You can do a simple, preliminary check up of your chimney yourself. Using a mirror, look up it through the cleanout door during the daylight hours. You should have an unobstructed view to the outside – with no evidence of blockage or crumbling brick, stone or mortar. If your view is obstructed, especially if you have an offset that won’t allow a visual sighting all the way to the outside, then you surely should call in a qualified outside inspector.
Actually, you may see signs of trouble with your chimney right away, at the bottom of the cleanout pit itself. You may find bits of broken bricks, stone or mortar there; if you do, call a chimney repair expert right away.
If your inspection through the cleanout door shows no problems but the exterior of your chimney has a white, chalky-looking substance on it, you can use your heating system safely but call the chimney experts for an inspection anyway.
Also check your burner, if there is an excessive amount of soot on the burner then it is another indication that your chimney may be blocked.
PAMCANI (The Plumbing & Mechanical Contractors Authority of Northern Illinois) is comprised of over 400 union contractors and sustaining members who provide and maintain plumbing, heating and cooling systems for institutional, commercial, business and residential applications. This non-profit trade organization invests over $3 million annually in the promotion, advancement, education and training of apprentices, journeymen and contractors, and actively works to raise awareness about water and energy conservation. Headquartered in Downers Grove, PAMCANI covers DuPage, DeKalb, Kane, Kendall, Lake and McHenry Counties.