Can Fireplaces Produce Carbon Monoxide?

People have been using fireplaces in their homes for hundreds of years. While they are seen as a classic piece of furniture that provides us with the warmth we need during winter, many are now wondering if they’re safe. If you live in a new home or haven’t had your fireplace updated in decades, it might be time to review your fire-safety plan. One health concern most people are aware of is carbon monoxide poisoning, which can lead to brain damage or even death. Here, we’ll discuss how fireplaces can produce carbon monoxide and what you should do if you want to avoid exposure to it.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that can be emitted from a fireplace or a fire pit. It comes from the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels like wood or coal, which is why a fireplace emits carbon monoxide in the first place.

Typically, carbon monoxide is dangerous because it can enter your body and cause you to become dizzy, nauseous, lightheaded or even pass out. But it’s also dangerous because it can stick around for a long time and accumulate in your system.

If you’re lucky enough to make it out alive once you’ve been exposed to carbon monoxide, then you’ll have a good chance of living through another day. However, if you’re not so lucky and suffer from brain damage or death due to exposure to the gas, your family members will be left with emotional trauma just as great as physical injuries.

How does Fireplace Produce Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that’s produced from burning coal, oil, or other fossil fuels. When it builds up inside your home, it can create deadly levels of carbon monoxide and lead to death. Carbon monoxide poisoning is especially dangerous because you might not notice the symptoms right away.

The most common way that fireplaces produce carbon monoxide is when it enters the chimney and gets vented into the room while you are asleep. The best way to prevent this from happening is by using dampers on your chimneys. These dampers take the smoke out of your chimney and keep it outside instead of in your living space.

If you’re worried about carbon monoxide poisoning, consider using a fireplace screen instead of a damper. With this type of screen, the fire will stay outside and won’t enter the room at all. This type of screen also keeps animals from getting in trouble if they find their way into your chimney!

What are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Carbon monoxide poisoning, also known as CO poisoning, is a serious health concern. CO can enter our bodies via inhalation, ingestion and skin contact.

Here are some symptoms you should be aware of:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

If you experience any of these symptoms after being in the presence of carbon monoxide, seek immediate medical attention. If you suspect your child has been exposed to carbon monoxide, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital immediately.

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a poisonous gas that can be produced when burning fuel in an enclosed space. While it might seem fine to use your fireplace as a heat source during winter, the same can’t be said for carbon monoxide.

One reason why people are unaware of the dangers of carbon monoxide is because they’re not always present in large amounts. However, as we get closer to the warmer seasons, levels of CO rise and start to accumulate in a room.

Let’s say you’re sitting near a fireplace with your family and enjoying some time together. You’ll notice that everything seems fine and nothing seems out of place. However, you have no idea that there are high levels of carbon monoxide nearby. If this happens, you could experience headaches or dizziness after 30-60 minutes.

Furthermore, CO poisoning doesn’t just affect one person at a time; it can also cause heart failure in those who are exposed to high concentrations over time. So if you want to avoid becoming ill or even dying from carbon monoxide poisoning this winter, make sure to take proper precautions while using your fireplace as a heating source and remember that many other people are using their fireplaces too!

How can Carbon Monoxide be Dangerous?

Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen when carbon monoxide enters into a person’s lungs and bloodstream. The gas binds with hemoglobin in red blood cells and replaces oxygen molecules, which can lead to suffocation or brain damage. Carbon monoxide builds up when heat is introduced to oxygen-depleted air like the air inside a closed room or car that has been running for a long time.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in three scenarios:

  • Too many people are using an appliance that does not have enough ventilation;
  • A homeowner uses a device such as a space heater for more than 12 hours per day;
  • A homeowner tries to use an appliance that plugs into an outlet with no power (including generators).

Fireplace Safety

There are many different ways in which a fireplace can produce carbon monoxide. When wood is burned, it releases carbon dioxide and water vapor that combine to form the poisonous gas. This can happen when the fire doesn’t have enough oxygen or when there’s a lack of ventilation around your fireplace.

However, if your fireplace works properly and you have adequate air circulation, it should be fine. It would be rare for people to experience carbon monoxide poisoning because of this reason.

The only way you might encounter carbon monoxide is if someone else in your home happens to burn fossil fuels inside their fireplace (such as natural gas or propane) with no venting system installed. As long as the chimney pipe is large enough and has an adequate cap on it, any dangerous levels of carbon dioxide from these sources will dissipate quickly into the atmosphere before entering your home.

The Importance of Proper Ventilation

Every home with a fireplace has a chimney, but not all chimneys are the same. According to the National Fire Protection Association, most chimneys produce too much draft and don’t have enough air flow. This is because they’re designed for use with woodburning stoves, which are typically located inside the residence.

If you want to avoid carbon monoxide exposure when using your fireplace this winter, you need to make sure that your ventilation system is up-to-date and functioning properly. You should also research new ways to ventilate the chimney. It might be beneficial to add an exhaust fan or insert a metal pipe from the outside of your house into the chimney in order to create more airflow.

If you aren’t sure what changes you need to make or don’t have time for DIY projects, contact your local heating and cooling professional for help!


Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be produced by many sources: including, but not limited to, fireplaces, furnaces, and stoves.

A carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal and has the potential to cause brain damage or even death in extreme cases. Proper ventilation and using the right fuel for your heating appliance are essential to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

April Crawford

April has over a decade’s experience writing reviews for consumer appliances. Chief writer and editor for appliances at, right now April is based out of small but beautiful beach-overlooking apartment in the sunny San Diego where she grew up. Reach her at