Can A Dirty Chimney Make You Sick? Call For A Chimney Repair If You See These Signs

A fireplace is the focal point of any room as it adds a luxurious impression and an intimate feel, but the family photos on the mantle add a sense of belonging that makes a house a home. It’s a reminder of how important it is to protect them, which is why we promote our annual chimney inspection and cleaning before wintertime usage. People often do not think about the fireplace and chimney other than for its architectural beauty until being reminded of its importance. If you are worried about a dirty chimney making your family sick, call if you see these warning signs.

How Can A Dirty Chimney Make You Sick?

Heating equipment was responsible for 27% of all structural fires and losses of life in 2018, according to the NFPA. In most of these cases, dirty chimneys were found to be the culprit, yet could have been prevented had the homeowners spotted the signs. Indicators of a chimney fire include a penetrating burning odor, a dense smoke, and a hissing or popping noise. Passersby may also see flames rising from the top of a chimney flue or hear a deep muffled sound nearby.

There are also hazardous gases that elevate the risk of a house fire. These gaseous chemicals are always present in a dirty chimney, so you need to be vigilant as they will make your family and friends ill. Two of the primary gases that you need to be on the lookout for in a well-used or dirty fireplace are carbon monoxide and creosote, which both can cause severe health issues or death.

Dangers Of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a hazardous gas that has no color, smell, or taste. Elements like wood, gas, propane, or charcoal produce carbon monoxide while it burns, which is why one must be vigilant in closed spaces such as homes. As a person exposed to it inhales, the body’s red blood cells replace the oxygen present with carbon monoxide, which damages the tissues and leads to death.

While we advocate for carbon monoxide detectors in your home as the best line of defense for detection, cleaning your chimney and ensuring the vents are ventilated correctly is the next plan of action that will significantly lower the chance of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire. An inspection will ensure there are no broken parts in the flue, and it is clear of nests and blockages.

Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Blurry Vision
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness Of Breath
  • Delirium
  • Unconsciousness

Dangers Of Creosote

Creosote is a carbon composite that contains lethal properties found from a preservative in materials like wood, coal, fossil fuel, and tar. When you burn these elements in your fireplace, the unburned compounds, along with smoke, tar, and soot leaves the home through the chimney. The remaining sticky black material inside your fireplace and chimney is the creosote compound.

Symptoms Of Creosote Poisoning Include:

  • Blurry Vision (Including Loss Of Vision)
  • Eye Irritation
  • Rash/Skin Irritation
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Intestinal Sickness
  • Skin Cancer


If you want to prevent a chimney fire, give us a call for a full inspection, cleaning, or chimney repair at (978) 977-3816 or visit our page.