How a Dirty Chimney Can Make You Sick

Chimney Sweep in Amherst, NHThe fireplace is a respite for comfort at any time of year. Whether it’s staying warm on a chilly night, or entertaining guests on a Saturday afternoon, many families spend a lot of time gathering around the fireplace. Most homeowners are probably unaware that a dirty chimney can make them sick.


Creosote is a naturally occurring by-product produced during combustion. It is most prevalent in burning wood fuel, but it also happens to a lesser extent in gas fireplaces. While the chimney expels most of the creosote, some of the residues will stick to the walls, flue liner and other components on the way out. The creosote, soot, ash, and other particulates will continue to accumulate every time the fireplace is lit. Over time, the creosote will become a tarry, crusty, flammable, and toxic contaminant. Not only does excessive creosote in the chimney increase the risk of fire, breathing in its vapors can make you sick.

Some of the warning signs to watch for include:

  • Eye and skin irritation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion

Exposure to creosote can also be more severe for those with asthma, allergies, and respiratory ailments.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

A dirty chimney reduces the efficiency of your fireplace resulting in the potential exposure of dangerous gases, such as carbon monoxide (CO). Also, twigs, leaves, pests, and other debris can obstruct the flue opening preventing the chimney from expelling toxic fumes. A chimney obstruction can cause exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning. CO poisoning is especially dangerous because it is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas. Most individuals don’t even realize they are being exposed to it. That’s why it is also known as the silent killer.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, include:

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

Chimney Cleaning in Concord, NHThe symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flue. Prolonged exposure to CO can cause unconsciousness and even death.


Even a small water leak inside a dirty chimney can make you sick. The combination of dirt and moisture are ripe for mold growth. Homeowners who haven’t had a chimney cleaning or inspection recently are unaware that they have mold in the chimney. As the mold continues to grow unabated, the tiny spores will circulate throughout the air. Mold can travel through air ducts where they can multiply, resulting in millions of spores throughout the home.

Exposure to mold can cause health problems, such as:

  • Cough
  • Headaches
  • Sinus congestion
  • Sore throat


Individuals with allergies and respiratory problems like asthma are at increased risk.

A Clean Chimney is a Safe Chimney

Don’t let your chimney make you sick. The best way to keep your family safe and healthy is to maintain a clean chimney. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends homeowners have a qualified technician inspect and clean the chimney annually. Also, make timely chimney repairs to reduce health and safety hazards. We also recommend homeowners install a battery-operated CO detector.

First Thing

John RantaJohn Ranta
17:01 22 Mar 24
They arrived on time, worked quickly and showed me the results. Prfessional throughout. jr
william greenwilliam green
23:21 14 Mar 24
Really helped me out can't say enough good things highly recommend!!!! The young man that came to my home was very knowledgeable and friendly great attitude all around answered all my questions and left me stress free best of all left no mess.🤙🏻🤙🏻
Michael Dell'OrtoMichael Dell'Orto
18:39 14 Mar 24
Jaime ConleyJaime Conley
17:13 14 Mar 24
Sarah GilliattSarah Gilliatt
01:46 13 Mar 24
A very thorough and careful job done! Thank you.
Larry CookLarry Cook
15:11 07 Mar 24
I wanted to give 5 stars but they are very busy which meant I had a good wait for both the inspection/cleaning, then for a quote on repairs and then for the repairs. Their prices seemed a little high to me but I have nothing to compare with as they were highly recommended by someone I trust and other companies had plenty of negatives reviews which kept me from getting additional quotes. I am happy with the work and they promptly returned to fix a mistake that had been made. Chris the inspector, Jennifer in the office, and Alex and his repair crew were all pleasant and took the time to answer all of my questions. Alex and his crew even took their shoes off (it was winter) before entering my house without even being asked! So if you are not in a rush and want to ensure you chimney is as safe as possible then I think you'll be happy with Black Moose.
Rebecca DeFuscoRebecca DeFusco
22:35 21 Feb 24
After a recent sweep of our chimney, it was discovered that our flue tiles were cracked. Black Moose techs were hard working, detail oriented and professional! Nice jobs guys! See you next year for my cleaning!
Karen CKaren C
14:52 14 Feb 24
Excellent I highly recommend Black Moose Chimney and Stove; Kelly and Liam are awesome, they did a great job. Extremely professional, arrived early, went through everything with a fine tooth comb ensuring pellet stove was thoroughly cleaned. They also were respectful of my home, conscientious and cleaned up after themselves. Made sure stove worked prior to leaving and told me to call promptly if anything came up afterward. Will definitely use them again.
Denise ClarkDenise Clark
16:32 31 Jan 24
We've had Black Moose clean our chimney for a number of years.But recently, we had an emergency situation at our home involving our chimney & oil furnace flue, which was caked full of soot from a malfunctioning furnace. They came & cleaned out both flues in no time, even going up on the roof with snow on it! They cleaned up after their work in the interior rooms where the oil furnace and the woodstove are located. Great work. Reasonable prices. Very nice people. You can't go wrong with Black Moose.
Joe GJoe G
18:30 24 Jan 24
Goods: The technicians know their business, very efficient in cleaning/inspection along with cleaning up after the 'dirty work'.Others: Communications could be more effective. Despite early coordination about scope of work (multiple flues within same chimney) the estimate provided did not reflect this and the final invoice was significantly more than the estimate provided.Quote for follow-on chimney relining was significantly more than that offered by other companies in the area (and far more than neighbors experienced for similar work accomplished by other companies)