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Magic Sweep Blog

The Enemy of Masonry Chimneys

No matter how well or strong your chimney was built, water can wreak havoc in a minute. Masonry chimneys are made with a variety of materials, all of which are affected by a common enemy: water. Water can put your chimney out of commission, causing costly damages. These damages affect not only your chimney, but they also affect the rest of your home as well. Don’t let water bring your chimney or home down. Give the team at Magic Sweep a call to learn more about preventative measures to protect against water.

Leaky Chimneys and Your Home

masonry chimney on red roofNo matter where your home could be experiencing a leak, there is a high chance it is coming from your chimney. Many homeowners are first inclined to call a plumber or a roofer when they find a leak. However, they should actually call the chimney professionals first. Water enters your home through the chimney system, travels through walls, ceilings, and floors, pulls at the lowest point, and finally forms a leak.

When you call a general contractor or roofer, you may have the water damage repaired, but these professionals are not trained and certified chimney professionals. It takes a certified chimney sweep to diagnose chimney problems and repair chimney leak damages. Our team at Magic Sweep Corp. diagnoses leaky chimneys, can correct the problem at the source, and fix the issue.

Common Causes for Chimney Leaks

When you call a chimney professional because of a leaky chimney, the first thing we’ll check is the flashing. It’s most commonly installed improperly and even flashing that is correctly installed can become dislodged due to severe weather or animal tampering. If the leak isn’t caused from the flashing, it may be the cap is damaged or missing, the crown is cracked or otherwise damaged, or the masonry itself is spalling and allowing water to penetrate the chimney walls.

Preventing Water Damage

The best thing you can do for your chimney system is to prevent water damage. Water is the biggest enemy of the chimney. Water leaks in the chimney cause rusted parts and assemblies, deterioration of metal fixtures and components, rotting wood and ruined walls, water stains, clogs, decay, and even settlements.

The damage caused by a leak will not only affect your chimney, but your furniture, walls, ceilings, and floors, and sometimes even your personal belongings. The easiest way to prevent the cost and bother of a chimney leak and all its damage is prevention. You can prevent chimney leaks by:

  • Scheduling annual chimney inspections
  • Completing repairs in a timely manner
  • Installing flashing, caps, and crowns when necessary
  • Waterproof masonry with a water repellant

Call the Team at Magic Sweep

At Magic Sweep, our goal is safety and comfort for all of our customers. We want your chimney to work well, correctly, and for the life of your home. Your chimney will last longer when you take the preventative measures to stop leaks. We waterproof chimneys, repair masonry, install protective components, and more. Ask a chimney expert about waterproofing your chimney by calling Magic Sweep at 757-523-2400 today!

Save Money With a Top Damper

Many chimneys today are equipped with throat dampers from ages ago. Most masonry chimneys and fire appliances utilize throat dampersTop-Mounted Dampers - Chesapeake VA which open and close the airway from the fire to the flue. This is an essential part of the chimney system and without it, the fire can be difficult to light and maintain, drafts can cause conditioned and heated air waste when the fireplace is not in use and can cause smoky fires when it becomes stuck. If you suspect problems with your damper, it’s important to call a professional right away. Do not use your fireplace if your damper is not working properly. This is unsafe for your family and puts your home at risk.

Throat Dampers Waste Money

A damaged or aged throat damper may waste a significant amount of money throughout the year, but the fact is that you’re wasting money even when the throat damper works properly. The standard throat damper is made of metal and the seal is not airtight, allowing drafts to affect temperatures inside the house. You may be losing up to 75 percent of your heated or conditioned air up the chimney, especially if your damper is damaged. You can start saving money right now by installing a top damper.

Energy Saving Dampers

Top mount dampers are also called energy saving dampers because they do the job of the damper while also saving energy, thereby saving money. The top damper is installed on top of the flue and doubles as a chimney cap, keeping animals, water, and other weather out of the flue system. The protection of a chimney cap prevents future damage caused by weather and animal intrusion. The top mount damper takes it one step further, protecting your flue from the top down with an airtight seal. While standard throat dampers take on damage from high temperatures, humidity, soot and creosote buildup, and more, the top mount damper lasts long and protects just as long.

How it works

Installed at the top of the chimney flue, the top mount damper is engaged by a cord that reaches from the damper to the fireplace opening. With the pull of a cord, the damper closes with an airtight seal. When open, the damper acts as a chimney cap, with a roof and a mesh barrier to deter animals and prevent sparks from escaping. When the fireplace is in use the damper must stay open at all times. When the fire is out, the damper can be closed, shutting off the system to the outside completely. No water, weather, or animals can get in when it’s closed. Humidity will not affect the flue, air will not come in or go out, and exterior factors such as wildfire smoke will not be allowed in either. The top mount damper is ideal for chimneys that have a damaged throat damper or damaged chimney cap. They’re easy to install and maintain, and can be easily replaced if necessary.

Magic Sweep installs top mount dampers for homeowners in the Hampton Roads and Tidewater areas. We also complete work for realtors and property managers. Call Magic Sweep to find out how we can save you money with a top damper today.

Call 757-523-2400 today.

What is Really in Your Air Ducts?

Are you spending more time outdoors since the weather has finally warmed up? If you’re like many, you may be spending more time than you realize inside even during warm weather. While we may want to do more activities outside, things like pollen and insects still drive us indoors. Even inside our houses, we may still be exposed more allergens than we think. At Magic Sweep, we would like to inform you about the effects of a dirty air ducts system and how we can help.

Dirty Air Ducts

a beautiful simple houseAccording to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), your home air ducts hold contaminates that circulate throughout your entire home. These contaminants are caused by dirt, mold spores, and rodent feces, so having a professional come out and clean your air ducts  is very important this spring! Dirty air ducts can lead to moisture damage, a strained central air or heat system, and respiratory issues for those that live in your home.

Prevent Duct Contamination

You can prevent duct contamination by having a professional come perform an air ducts cleaning. You can also prevent contamination by keeping your home clean of rodents and insects. Replacing your air filter is another important way to have a clean and efficient air duct system. Change your filters more frequently if they get clogged often. You should never use your system without an air filter.

Ask your maintenance person to clean the cooling coils and drain pans next time maintenance is being done. Only use a dehumidifier if it is recommended by a professional or manufacturer. Keep moisture out of your air ducts and check for signs of mold regularly. In order to prevent water damage and mold growth, repair leaks and water damage as soon as possible. Make sure all ducts and vents are working properly and have no leaks. If trash, toys, and dirt fall into your vent outlet covers, make sure to clean it out immediately to prevent buildup and obstruction.

Your Air Duct Experts

At Magic Sweep, we cleans air ducts, and our mission is to keep our customers safe and comfortable. By offering vacuum pressure air duct cleaning, we are able to clean air ducts thoroughly without harming them and without affecting the breathable air. Our vacuum system is hooked up to your system directly, and we pull all the contaminants out so it allows air to flow freely and cleans the air. Concerned about bacteria growth in your system? Ask a Magic Sweep technician about sanitizing the air ducts with a mild sanitizing agent.

If you reside in the Hampton Roads/Tidewater area and haven’t had your air duct cleaned in the last year—or ever—you can get on the schedule today! We work with realtors and property managers, homebuyers and hospitality industry. We clean air ducts so you don’t have to worry about the air you’re breathing, and neither does your family or customers. Call us at 757-523-2400 or request an appointment online!

Dangers of Clogged Dryer Vents

If you have your own home, you most likely have your own washer and dryer. These appliances are expensive and require very little upkeep, but it’s important that homeowners remember that LOW maintenance doesn’t mean NO maintenance. Your clothes dryer needs routine cleaning in order to work properly and safely. Having your dryer professionally installed, including the vents, and scheduling dryer vent cleanings annually will keep your unit venting correctly and prevent dangerous dryer vent clogs.

Dirty Dryer Ventshand holding dryer lint in front of clothing dryer

According to the U.S. Fire Administration there are nearly 3,000 clothes dryer fires reported each year. Of these fires, there are 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property damages. When units are as efficient as they are, manufactured as well as they are, and there are professional services designed to maintain them, there is no reason to have even one clothes dryer fire. As far as Magic Sweep is concerned, one fire is too many, and it’s our goal to prevent dangerous dryer vent fires in your home.

Dryer Vent Cleaning

The leading cause of dryer vent fires annually is the failure to clean the unit—the appliance and the vent. Homeowners think that cleaning the lint trap after use is the only thing you have to do to prevent lint buildup, but this is not so! The lint trap should be cleaned after each use, and the dryer vent itself must be professionally installed, adhere to professional standards, and be cleaned by a certified technician annually.

Did You Know…

-A dryer vent must be a minimum of 4 inches in diameter and as large as the dryer outlet?
-The dryer vent should not exceed 25 feet in length when each 90-degree angle equals 5 feet?
-Dryer vents should terminate outdoors and independent of all other systems?
-The outside termination hood should have a backdraft damper to prevent air from entering the vent from the outside?
-Flexible ducts should never be used in an attic, crawlspace, or inside a wall?
-Metal ducts should be used between the dryer and exhaust ducts?
Certified Dryer Exhaust Technicians (CDET) are trained in manufacturer and fire safety standards?

Cleaning Dryer Vents Saves You Money

You can benefit from a dryer vent cleaning no matter what type of dryer you have. It helps to prevent fires in electric and gas-powered dryers, raises efficiency, and saves money in utilities. The most common sign that you need a dryer vent cleaning is that the unit takes more than one cycle to dry a load of clothes. Many homeowners attribute this to a worn-out unit, but we know better. Your clothes dryer should last ten years. If it’s been less than 5 years old and isn’t dry in one cycle, you probably have a clogged vent! Running the dryer in this state can ignite the liner buildup in the dryer vent. It will also cost you 2 to 3 times the utilities if you run 2 to 3 cycles.

Save yourself money and protect your home and family from a devastating fire by scheduling dryer vent cleaning.

Call Magic Sweep at 757-523-2400 or request an appointment online.

Creosote and Your Chimney

Your chimney and fireplace system has been working to heat your home all winter long. This has been a particularly long winter, and you’ve likely burned more wood than usual. The slow-to-start spring also causes homeowners to continue using the fireplace even when temperatures become milder, sometimes closing the system out for the off-season before having it properly cleaned and inspected.

It’s important to clean up the creosote and soot from inside the fireplace and chimney system so that you aren’t bothered by unwelcome odors this summer, and your system will be ready to use this fall. Creosote and Your Chimney

Creosote

Creosote is a substance that is produced when organic materials are burned. When wood is burned, for instance, creosote is produced and deposited into the chimney as it rises with the smoke. Properly seasoned firewood produces creosote, but green or wet wood burns incompletely, resulting in more wood being burned and more creosote being produced when it is burned. Creosote is made up mostly of tar, which makes it a sticky, flammable material. This material builds up easily inside the flue and is extremely dangerous when not removed regularly.

Glazed Creosote

If the creosote isn’t removed on a regular basis through a professional chimney sweep, it can quickly become a buildup that obstructs airflow through the chimney. As the air slows in the chimney, more creosote will be deposited inside the flue. These buildups eventually turn into glazed creosote. Glazed creosote is the term used to describe creosote that has been heated over and over again, evaporating the water and leaving a condensed mass of fuel. Glazed creosote is a solid mass with a glassy appearance that is difficult to remove.

Creosote Removal

Your chimney should be cleaned on a regular basis to avoid a drop in efficiency and safety. The chimney works perfectly when air flows properly from the fireplace to the flue opening. As creosote and soot are deposited in the chimney interior, airflow is no longer at its best. The drop in efficiency leads to more creosote buildup. In order to stop the cycle, your chimney system should be cleaned by a professional on a regular basis. A standard chimney sweep will remove all the soot, creosote, and debris that affects your chimney system. Once the creosote reaches level three or glazed buildup, it is more difficult to remove. Instead of using brushes and vacuums to clean the chimney, a chemical is first applied to the glazed creosote. As it’s absorbed, the creosote flakes away and can be brushed and vacuumed out of the system.

When it comes to creosote, you can’t stop it completely, but you can prevent creosote from making your system less efficient, and even dangerous. In order to prevent excessive creosote from affecting your system, make sure your firewood is properly seasoned, never burn trash or clothes in your fireplace, and make sure you use your system properly. Allowing your fire to smolder or lighting a fire in a cold chimney increases the amount of creosote produced by your fire.

In addition to creosote removal, your chimney professionals can also complete routine chimney inspections. If your chimney hasn’t been inspected in the last twelve months, it’s time to call the professionals. Call Magic Sweep to schedule services today.