So you’re sitting in front of your fireplace enjoying the warmth and comfort of a crackling fire. At this moment, it’s hard to believe that this same fireplace and chimney system can contribute to a great safety hazard: carbon monoxide poisoning. This thought alone is scary to everyone. However, it’s important to understand what this is. What can cause carbon monoxide build-up? Also, what you can do to prevent it?

What is Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is released when combustion takes place. According to, the less complete the burn, the more carbon monoxide is released into the air. Low levels of carbon monoxide can cause flu-like symptoms such as tiredness, headaches, and even vomiting. Prolonged exposure can lead to death.

What Causes Carbon Monoxide Build-up

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America website, two of the major factors that cause an increased amount of carbon monoxide related illnesses and deaths are related to increased technology. First off, new homes are being built to be more energy efficient and air-tight. This is great when it comes to saving money on costly heating bills. Unfortunately, this means there is less fresh air coming into the home and less ways for polluted air to leave. When furnaces and boiler systems don’t have the oxygen they need to burn fuel completely, carbon monoxide is produced.

In addition, the high-tech heating appliances that are being produced today don’t always perform at an optimum level. So, what’s the difference in performance between your new, efficient appliance and older chimney system? it can cause toxic gases to enter your home more easily.

Other conditions can also cause an increase of carbon monoxide in your home:

  • Your flue liner is damaged or deteriorating
  • Obstructions in your chimney
  • If there is an increase in soot build-up

What To Do

There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. has several ideas to ensure safety from carbon monoxide. Everyone has heard of the importance of fire/smoke detectors. Additionally, it is equally important to have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. Make sure that the damper is open before lighting a fire in your fireplace. If you own a new home, it may be wise to leave a window cracked open when using your fireplace.

Yearly Inspection

These are all good ways to reduce the chances of carbon monoxide building up in your home. The best way is to have your chimney inspected and cleaned on a yearly basis. However, it should only be done by CSIA certified professionals like those at the Chimney Doctors of Colorado. They use the latest technology and tools. This ensures that your chimney has low levels of creosote build-up and will remove any obstructions, such as dead leaves or animal nests. They can also recommend any repair work that needs to be completed. These measures will greatly reduce your chances of carbon monoxide build-up.