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Chimney Soot Explains Illness

Soot inside of chimney

For me, looking at the patterns of fireplace chimney soot inside the chimney flue shown above is much like reading tea leaves, only scientific. The soot stains and the water streaks within the stains tell me a story.

The people who owned the fireplace connected to this chimney were experiencing ill symptoms that prompted them to call me for an indoor environmental investigation of their home.

When performing investigations where my clients experience symptoms with unknown causes, it’s important for me to inspect for all potential contaminants sources that could collectively contribute to their symptoms, including fireplaces.

What are the symptoms caused by fireplaces?

The most common symptoms of malfunctioning or improperly used fireplaces are:

  •        Headaches and migraines
  •        Memory loss
  •        Chronic fatigue
  •        Snoring
  •        Allergy symptoms
  •        Asthma symptoms

These symptoms can continue long after a fireplace is no longer in use. Soot particles that escape fireplaces and woodstoves can stay airborne for hours and even days; then unknowingly inhaled by occupants.

How does the fireplace chimney flue explain an illness?

1)      The patterns of soot inside this chimney flue indicate significant air leakage escaping from the house up through the chimney. This condition results in wasted energy dollars, but more seriously, draws in displacement air through exterior walls that can bring in a variety of hidden contaminants.

2)      The stains also indicate breaches through the joints of the chimney flue tiles that could potentially lead to a house fire, but more commonly cause hidden water damage that can lead to mold growth.

3)      The stains are also evidence of back-drafting conditions that result in subtle carbon monoxide poisoning, and toxic carbon soot particles that do not exit the chimney as they should.

A single or combination of these conditions can cause homeowners to experience a variety of symptoms.

Soot stains above fireplace opening

When these conditions are occurring there will often be visible soot on the front of a fireplace just above the firebox.

Soot inspection test using a white paper towel

When gas fireplace inserts are used, or if there’s a black metal screen/door frame around the fireplace opening, a white paper towel can be used to wipe the surface and determine if a problem exists.

How common are these problems?

I inspect many wood burning fireplaces, gas fireplace inserts, and wood stoves for possible sources of airborne contaminants. Ventless fireplaces, also known as alcohol fireplaces, can also contaminate indoor air.

Microscopic carbon soot particle toxins

The chief culprit is toxic carbon soot particles that escape fireplaces and woodstoves. The photo above shows what one soot particle looks like underneath a microscope. The toxic chemicals in the soot particle look the same as oil or gasoline floating on water.

Secondarily, the concerns are insufficient oxygen indoors which can cause another wide range of health problems, and subtle carbon monoxide poisoning due to levels that are not quite high enough to set off an alarm and warn occupants.

Over the years, I’ve witnessed so many unhealthy and unsafe conditions in homes that I was compelled to write books on gas fireplaces, wood fireplaces, ventless fireplaces, and wood-burning stoves. In these books, I not only teach how these appliances can cause health issues, but I also explain all the fire/safety issues, and the scamming techniques used by installers and service companies. The books are:

Safe and Healthy Fireplaces

Safe and Healthy Fireplaces book cover

Fireplaces without Chimneys

Fireplaces without Chimneys book explains the pros and cons of portable fireplaces.

How to Buy and Safely Use Woodstoves

How to Buy and Safely Use Woodstoves book cover

Many people who have fireplaces and wood burning stoves in their homes have little knowledge on how to use them correctly, or whether they pose a danger to their health or safety.

If you own or plan on installing a fireplace or wood stove, these books will not only help protect your health and safety but will reveal things that fireplace professionals either don’t know or will deliberately not tell you.

 

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You can receive quick reads of helpful information simply by subscribing. It’s a great way to continue learning ways to improve the air quality in your home.

 

Would you like to learn more right away…for free?

Download your complimentary copy of one of the most helpful books you’ll ever read on indoor air quality by clicking this link:  6 Steps to Healthy Indoor Air.

Steps for Healthy Indoor Air

This book is my gift to everyone who wants to prevent or is already suffering from, allergy symptoms, asthma symptoms, headaches, migraines, ADD, ADHD, sinus infection, ear infection, memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, insomnia, and cancer.

This is not a ho-hum book. It’s based on over 30 years of home investigations and includes photos with detailed explanations to help you learn the right way to protect yourself, avoid medications with side effects, and not waste money on air filters or air purifiers that are not as efficient as implied.

In 6 Steps to Healthy Indoor Air, I will teach you actual causes of and practical solutions for poor indoor air quality. And because I offer this as a free book, I want you to feel comfortable sharing it with others you care about.

About the author

If you would like to know why I’ve invested my life into helping people, you can visit About or read what others are saying by visiting Testimonials.

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