Oil to Gas Conversions

Homeowners who have converted their home heating systems from oil to natural gas are being warned by government safety experts to have chimneys inspected now for possible Carbon Monoxide health hazards. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the build-up of soot deposits on the ling of chimneys form years of oil heating contributes to a possible problem. CPSC advises that after the heating system is converted from oil to gas, the soot deposits tend to loosen and fall to the base of the chimney.

Additionally, sulfur deposits from years of oil heating mix with water vapor vented by the new gas appliance and form sulfuric acid, which deteriorates the interior of the chimney. Because the newer high-efficiency gas-burning appliances vent higher levels of water vapor, they seriously escalate a deterioration problem. This deterioration causes the chimney interior to spall and flake away, falling the bottom of the chimney. If these conditions go undetected long enough, bricks may dislodge and fall. This debris may block the exhaust from the gas furnace and could cause a build-up of Carbon Monoxide in the home.

The CPSC notes that consumers exposed to Carbon Monoxide often experience symptoms frequently associated with “having the flu”, including dizziness, nausea, headaches, irregular breathing and loss of consciousness.

Homes which continue to be heated with oil do not experience this problem, but according to the CPSC, homeowners who have converted from oil to gas, or who are considering this change, should promptly arrange to have the chimney inspected. If there are signs of soot build-up the chimney should be cleaned.

Annual inspections, according to the CPSC, should be made until no subsequent accumulations or soot deposits are found.