Summer Time Chore - Check Your Furnace Chimney

July 19th, 2010 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Chimneys, Energy Efficiency, Poisoning | No Comments »

With record-breaking heat waves baking much of the country, it seems like an odd time to be thinking about your furnace or it’s chimney, but this is the season to get your furnace chimney checked by a qualified chimney sweep or furnace maintenance company. Failing to do so could cause carbon monoxide poisoning problems in a few short months when the weather turns chilly again.

Why is that?

In the spring many creatures large and small make their homes in fireplace and furnace flues, to nest or have their young in the relative comfort of the cool, quiet, and dark “cave” that is open on the roofs of many homes across the country. These creatures like birds, squirrels, raccoons and bats can bring a mess of nesting materials with them, or create a mess of droppings left behind, potentially clogging the chimney either at the top (with a bird nest) or at the bottom (near the thimble where your furnace connects).

What happens during the summer is that the young have grown, left the chimney, and left behind a potentially deadly situation for the people living in the home.

That nesting material, along with any other mess left behind, can reduce the ability of your chimney to exhaust the deadly carbon monoxide fumes generated from your furnace or non-electric water-heater. (Hint: If your furnace or water-heater uses fuel like natural gas, propane, or oil - then it creates carbon monoxide.)

If the chimney flue is partially blocked, then the odorless but dangerous carbon monoxide can escape into the home. In the worst-cases, the mess left behind may actually block the chimney completely, causing all of the carbon monoxide to dump into the home, possibly building to concentrations high enough to cause death.

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A Model Green Home

April 2nd, 2009 | Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Home Projects | 2 Comments »

Source: Smart Homeowner 

Last year, Fireside completed construction on a three-level, 4,000-square-foot timber-frame home that became the first residence in Michigan to achieve Platinum-level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. That’s the highest level of certification available for homes under the U.S. Green Building Council’s popular green-building rating system.

The home, dubbed Burnside’s Inn, incorporates many of the latest energy-efficient systems and green building products. It features a custom timber-frame structure designed by Marty Birkenkamp of Riverbend Timber Framing, located in nearby Blissfield, Mich., in the southeastern region of the state. Building systems such as ICFs (insulating concrete forms) and SIPs (structural insulated panels) were used to construct the home. In addition, it has a geothermal heating and cooling system, as well as a stand-alone solar energy system. The result is an energy-efficient demonstration home Burnside uses to tout the benefits of building green…

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Consumer Reports Risk Survey: 48% of Americans Don’t Have Carbon-Monoxide Detectors

February 5th, 2009 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Energy Efficiency, Food & Nutrition, Home Projects, Slip-and-Fall | No Comments »

YONKERS, N.Y., Feb. 2 — PRNewswire-USNewswire – Some 48 percent of Americans don’t have a carbon-monoxide detector at home, 24 percent sometimes fail to fasten a seatbelt, and 39 percent often eat raw dough when making cookies, according to a nationally representative poll of 1,000 Americans conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

This is the second part of a two-part series that looks at risky behavior. The first half was published in the February 2009 issue of Consumer Reports.

The poll reveals what behaviors Americans do which they probably shouldn’t including: occasionally using the top step of a ladder (31 percent), sometimes having a beer while using a power tool or mower (13 percent), and letting their kids play on a trampoline (43 percent).

Also, the survey shows what behaviors Americans don’t do that they probably should including: having a rubber mat in the tub or shower (61 percent don’t), changing batteries in smoke alarms yearly (21 percent don’t), and eating burgers only well done (32 percent don’t).

The full report on how often Americans take risks is available in the March 2009 issue of Consumer Reports, on saleFebruary 3 and online at www.ConsumerReports.org.

The results are revealing because these behaviors can cause real harm, according to safety experts at Consumer Reports and elsewhere.

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, safety belts saved 15,147 lives in 2007.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that carbon-monoxide poisoning claims almost 500 lives in the U.S. each year.
  • The CDC notes that a common cause of food-borne salmonella infections is under-cooked or raw eggs, often found in cookie dough. Salmonellosis causes an estimated 1.4 million cases of foodborne illness and more than 500 deaths annually in the United States.
  • Based on Consumer Reports’ analysis of Consumer Product Safety Commission data, more than 105,000 hospital-treated injuries in the U.S. in 2007 were linked to trampolines.

The poll revealed men were slightly more likely than women to let children play on a trampoline, and women were more apt to eat burgers well done, fasten their safety belt religiously, and clean lint from the dryer after each use. Respondents ages 18 to 35 were more likely than older folks to eat raw cookie dough; those 55 and older were more likely to have a rubber mat in the tub or shower.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a random-digit-dialing telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households. In all, 1,000 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+. Interviews took place in October 2008. The margin of error is +/- 3% points at a confidence level of 95 percent.

MARCH 2009

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