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Can Your Dirty Chimney Make You Sick?

Have you or a family member had symptoms that make you wonder if your dirty chimney can make you sick? Yes, routinely feeding logs into the fireplace without scheduling chimney cleaning can expose your family to various health risks. Some experts say to clean the chimney when the creosote is layered to 1/8” and others recommend annual chimney cleaning. Creosote buildup can be so bad that the chimney flue is obstructed, which leads to carbon monoxide exposure. And moisture in the chimney can result in mold growth. Read on to learn more about how a dirty chimney can make you sick.

Creosote Exposure and Chimney Sweeping in The Woodlands TXCreosote

Creosote is the tar-like sooty substance that makes chimneys so dirty. Only wood-burning fireplaces produce creosote, which is also a toxic contaminant. It is a combustion by-product, and every wood fire contributes to the buildup of creosote. Particulate matter from soot, ash, and creosote accumulates with each fire. Extreme creosote buildup increases toxins in the air, not to mention that it increases the risk of a hazardous chimney fire. Symptoms of creosote exposure include:

  • Burning eyes and eye irritation
  • Rubbing the eyes, which could result in vision problems
  • Respiratory problems such as lung issues
  • Mental confusion
  • In rare cases, cancer
  • Skin irritations, lesions, and rashes

Carbon Monoxide

Anything that obstructs the chimney results in combustion gases going into the home. Carbon monoxide (CO) is one of those gases, and it can make you sick to the point of death. What makes carbon monoxide extremely dangerous is that it doesn’t smell like anything, it’s invisible, and it doesn’t leave a taste in your mouth. Symptoms don’t manifest until it may be too late to escape CO exposure. Symptoms of CO poisoning include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Dull headache
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath


If moisture gets into your chimney flue, it creates an ideal environment for mold growth. Without a chimney inspection, you may be unaware that mold is growing and that tiny spores circulate in the air inside your home. Mold can move through air ducts and multiply. The result could be that you have millions of spores in your home. This increases the health risk for people with respiratory problems and allergies.Health problems commonly caused by exposure to mold include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Sinus congestion
  • Cough
  • Sore throat

Professional Chimney Cleaning and Sweeping in Houston TXSchedule Chimney Cleaning with Guardian Chimney Sweep

Ask a chimney sweep if your dirty chimney can make you sick and you may be surprised by the answer. Our technicians at Guardian Chimney Sweep LLC are certified chimney professionals, and they care about our clients. They will clean your chimney, and removing the creosote may require more than a chimney brush. Level 2 and Level 3 inspections make use of special equipment such as a video camera specially made to check out every inch of the chimney flue from top to bottom. Our chimney sweeps can also clean out any mold for you. Reach out today by filling out our contact form or calling us at any of the numbers below.
Toll-free: (888) 306-6069
Conroe: (936) 271-9781
Houston: (713) 401-2011