Older chimney flues serving gas appliances such as furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, and water heaters are a potential Carbon Monoxide hazard. The older masonry flues are typically in poor condition unless they've been maintained over the years. Rain water and condensation from acidic flue gasses can cause mortar joints to deteriorate and wash out over the years, leaving gaps that can allow Carbon Monoxide and other gasses to enter the living space of the home.
A second cause of CO backup is clogs in the flue or connecting pipe caused by deteriorated mortar, falling bricks, bird nests, leaves and other debris, which block the flue. To avoid this issue, have a professional chimney sweep inspect the flue annually to check for potential problems and have repairs completed by a qualified contractor who specializes in chimney work.
Gene Padgitt, HearthMasters, Inc.
HVAC contractors do not normally inspect, repair, or replace flue liners and this is not a part of an annual furnace tune-up or checkup. Professional chimney sweeps are trained in chimney maintenance and repair and are the best persons to call for chimney work.
Gene Padgitt of HearthMasters, Inc. in Independence, Missouri said that he sees several gas flues per week that are in poor condition and need repair. "CO is not something to ignore, it is a real health hazard, said Gene." Unfortunately, many homeowners don't know the condition of their gas chimney flues. Hidden internal damages can be costly to repair.
Padgitt suggests contacting a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep to do inspections and repair.
Stainless steel chimney covers
Carbon Monoxide is odorless, tasteless and colorless. It is often referred to as the "Silent Killer." More cases of CO illness and death occur during winter months when heating appliances are in use and houses are closed up. Symptoms of CO poisoning are unexplained headaches, nausea, dizziness fatigue, flu-like symptoms, passing out, and death.
A Carbon Monoxide detector can alert occupants to a CO hazard. If an alarm goes off, don't ignore it, check to see what the problem is or call the gas company immediately.
Installation of a heavy duty stainless steel chimney cover, or a custom-made cover to protect several flues in the same chimney will help prevent damages due to rain. All flues need chimney covers.