Chimney and heating appliance safety is not solely about the proper handling of fire. It is also concerned with the air quality that those devices create in the home. A chimney that is poorly designed, improperly installed, not maintained, or damaged can create and leak dangerous pollutants into the living area of the home.

Below are some common pollutants that are produced when burning fuel in a fireplace or heating appliance. Part of an annual chimney inspection is to help avoid having these toxins in the air of your home.

Nitrogen Dioxide


  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Irritated Nose, Eyes, or Throat
  • Mild Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • In those with asthma or respiratory disorders, it can cause increased bronchial reactivity and make young children more susceptible to respiratory infections.
  • Long-term exposure can cause chronic bronchitis.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas and is initially non-threatening. That is why chimney professionals are so adamant about discussing this toxic gas with their clients.


  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Death

Sulphur Dioxide

Short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide, ranging from 5 to 24 minutes, can cause an array of adverse respiratory effects. These effects can have a particularly significant impact on asthmatics.


  • Bronchoconstriction
  • Increased Asthma Symptoms
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchitis
  • Aggravate Existing Heart Disease

Fine Particle Pollution (Ash)

Occurs from improperly burned wood.


  • Damage Lung Tissue
  • Serious Respiratory Problems
  • Can harm the health of children, the elderly, and those with respiratory diseases.

Resources: Clean Sweeps, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, EPA (2) (3), HealthLinkBC, Wood Burning Handbook

Read for More Information:

  • Do You Need a Chimney Cleaning?
  • Spring Chimney Cleaning & Inspection to Remove Winter’s Wrath
  • What Your Chimney Sweep Cleans Up

Wells & Sons Chimney Service offers a full range of chimney cleaning and repair services to the Chester County, Berks County, and Montgomery County, PA areas. Chimney cleaning services include levels 1 thru 3 chimney inspections and chimney sweeps using a high-velocity ROVAC vacuum.