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Magic Sweep Blog

Learn The Difference Between Gas And Wood Stoves

Homeowners love fireplaces, but it’s not always possible to construct a fireplace and chimney system in an existing home. In fact, it can be impossible either because of logistics or because of cost. A great option for homeowners who would like to use fire heat and want the beauty of a crackling fire is to install a stove. At the Magic Sweep showroom, we get a lot of questions about gas and wood stoves. Here is the lowdown:

Difference Between Gas And Wood Stoves Image - Chesapeake VA - Magic SweepGas Fuel

When you choose gas fuel, you are choosing the most efficient option. Gas stoves are highly efficient, safe, and perfect for zone heating. They come with the added convenience of low-maintenance, high-performance products that are easy to light (sometimes with an easy on/off switch), and temperature control. Gas stoves should be piped up, either through the ceiling and out of the house, or through an existing chimney. Because gas burns so efficiently, and the stove uses most of the heat for the room, there isn’t much heat left to push up the chimney. A properly-sized flue keeps the byproducts from the fire moving up and out, the system efficient, and the fire safe.

Wood Fuel

Wood is a great option for homeowners who have access to their own wood supply, or a local supplier. These stoves are efficient and safe, especially the products we sell at Magic Sweep. However, even the best wood stove products can see a significant drop in both efficiency and safety if they aren’t operated properly.

  • Only burn properly seasoned wood in your wood stove.
    Burning trash, clothes, and other materials in your wood stove can lead to excessive ash, creosote, and soot.
  • Clean ash out of the stove regularly.
    Too much ash can cause wood to smolder, leading to less heat, and more creosote and soot. Keep 1/4 inch of the ash on the bottom of your stove to serve as an insulator.
  • Use the damper to help light the fire and control the flame.
    Do not burn a fire with the damper completely closed. This causes the wood to smolder and burn too slowly and incompletely.

Visit Our Showroom!

Whether you use wood or gas, a stove is a great option for any homeowner. While wood is a popular option, it isn’t as convenient as gas, and many homeowners wince at the idea of hauling and splitting wood, let alone the wood dust and ash that comes with a wood stove. When you let Magic Sweep help you decide on your stove, we can show you the full range of styles and designs for both wood and gas. Manufacturers have created designs to complement traditional and contemporary decor, even creating realistic logs for gas stoves to look just as pleasing as a wood stove.

You can call Magic Sweep today at 757-523-2400 or visit our showroom at 938 Providence Road in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Complete Your Masonry Work Before Winter Weather Hits

Masonry Repairs Image - Chesapeake VA - Magic Sweep CorporationIf your chimney has been inspected this summer and you need work done, you should not wait. Winter is coming, and with it will come the busy season, and cold weather!

Beat the Fall Rush

The time between October and January is considered the fall rush because chimney sweep companies are busy during this time. It can be difficult to get an appointment during the fall rush because many chimney sweeps are busy with emergency calls at this time. If you wait until the fall rush to schedule your masonry work, your job might take much longer than it should, simply because the appointment time is just not available. Schedule early and avoid any delays.

Beat the Winter Weather

When the weather begins to cool, homeowners want to light those fires, whether for aesthetics or for warmth. Lighting a fire in a damaged chimney is a recipe for disaster, though, and can lead to a house fire as well as carbon monoxide poisoning and more. Get your masonry repairs completed before cold weather hits, and avoid even the temptation of lighting an unsafe fire. Just don’t do it. Do not put your family or property at risk. It is always best to get chimney damage repaired as soon as possible, no matter what season it is. Damaged masonry can lead to big problems year-round.

Water Damage and Winter Damage

Water damage is one thing, but when you allow your damaged chimney to take on water during cold weather, your problems will multiply. Water will work its way into your damaged masonry, then freeze and expand, causing more damage before it melts, and repeats the process over again. This freeze/thaw effect is the #1 cause of winter damage. Get the masonry work done now and avoid the damaging effect of water on your masonry this winter.

Don’t Be Left in the Cold

When you hire a certified chimney sweep to complete chimney work, they will require you to discontinue chimney use before the appointment. For instance, Magic Sweep requires that a fireplace and chimney be cold when our technician comes for a scheduled service–preferably no fire for 24 hours prior. Depending on how much work you need to be done, and how much you depend on your fireplace for heat, you may be in for a couple of cold nights or tempted to use a fireplace that is dangerous. This is dangerous and not recommended.

Magic Sweep knows the importance of chimney safety, and puts customer safety and comfort above all else. That is why we offer comprehensive chimney services year-round. Let us repair your masonry before winter, and we can help you prevent winter damage too. Call 757-523-2400 or come by!

What You Need To Know About Chimney Caps and Dampers

Every part of the chimney system does an important job to help your chimney vent the toxic fumes of your fire. However, what happens if the chimney doesn’t work properly? Unfortunately, you will suffer from chronic respiratory distress, your home will be covered in particulate pollution, and your fire will have trouble staying lit. The chimney helps you fire burn and keeps your family safe from toxins and fire!

About Chimney Caps and Dampers Image - Chesapeake VA - Magic Sweep CorporationThe Chimney Cap

The chimney cap does its part to keep your chimney working, by keeping outside influences from getting in.

  • The cap keeps water out of the flue, preventing extreme damage caused by water.
  • It keeps animals out that may damage the flue liner, leave behind flammable debris, and can even die and cause obstruction. Animal removal, repairs, and sweeps cost money. These costs can be avoided by adding a chimney cap that keeps these critters out.
  • Prevents wind gusts from blowing into the flue and affecting your fire. Wind gusts can put a fire out, or cause the fire to become unruly.
  • The cap keeps dangerous sparks from escaping the flue opening and igniting debris on the roof, and dry foliage below.

The Chimney Damper

Like the cap, the damper plays an important role in chimney function. However, many have found the traditional damper to be flawed. The damper can help control the fire and prevent drafts when the fireplace isn’t in use. In addition, it keeps animals from entering the house by way of the chimney. Having said this, the cast iron or metal throat damper does not have a solid seal. They can also be difficult to access to be repaired or replaced. Many homeowners and industry professionals have been looking for a better option, and the top mount damper is the solution!

Energy Saver

There is another option for dampers and caps! This is the top mount damper – also called the energy saving damper. The top mount damper acts as a damper and a chimney cap, combined. It keeps water, weather, and animals out, while keeping sparks in. The top mount damper has a tight seal that saves energy and protects the chimney flue from the top down. It can only be closed when a fire is out, because it does not allow anything in or out.

By switching to a top mount damper, homeowners save hundreds of dollars in cooling and heating costs per year. How do you open and close the damper if it’s on the roof? It’s easy! There is a cord installed directly from the damper to the hearth. Pulling on the cord engages and disengages the damper, and allows you to do it all from the comfort of your home.

Magic Sweep sells throat dampers and chimney caps, but we are proud to sell and install top mount dampers that save energy, protect chimneys more thoroughly, and require less upkeep than a throat damper. Call and ask a Magic Sweep chimney expert about top mount dampers today. Dial 757-523-2400 or request an appointment online now!

Make Your Fall Chimney Inspection Appointments Now

You can avoid the fall rush by scheduling your chimney appointments now. The fall rush is the time which chimney sweep companies are especially busy; emergency calls, installations, and repairs are overflowing! Routine maintenance like chimney sweeps and inspections should be taken care of before burn season.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Magic Sweep remains Hampton Road’s #1 choice for comprehensive chimney care. Why? We put customer safety and comfort first! Offering a full menu of affordable chimney services to better serve our customers year-round – so that you aren’t left in the cold this fall and winter. Your chimney inspection is best completed now, so that your sweep has time to make repairs if necessary. Your chimney sweep and inspection may be the only time your chimney system is seen by a professional. In addition, it may save you money in the long run.

Make Your Fall Chimney Inspection Appointments Now - Chesapeake VA - Magic Sweep

When You Need an Inspection

Not sure you need an inspection? If you haven’t scheduled one in the last year, you need to. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) along with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), routine sweeps and annual inspections keep your chimney system at its best. For a safe and efficient chimney system, you need a CSIA inspection annually, at the least. You may need more than that. Here are the levels of inspection:

  • 1: Annual inspection when nothing has changed with the system, and no changes are expected.
  • 2: Required inspection upon sale or transfer of property, following a natural disaster (hurricane, earthquake, etc.), fire, or when a level 1 shows a concern.
  • 3: Is necessary when a level 1 and level 2 inspection indicates a serious hazard. The level 3 inspection explores hidden portions of the chimney system by the removal of building and chimney components.

Familiarize yourself with CSIA inspections! This is so that you may be aware if documentation is required by homeowners insurance, real estate professionals, or municipal authorities.

Scheduling Your Annual Inspection Now

Schedule before the fall rush! Why? You are also less likely to sustain winter damages to your chimney system. During your inspection, your chimney sweep will document any weaknesses of the system whatsoever. That means that a crack today, doesn’t have to be a chimney leak later. A dirty flue can be taken care of now, and a flue fire is avoided later. An inspection now, and you’re less likely to be shelling out cash for a big repair this spring. The chimney works efficiently and safely when it’s clean, with parts properly installed and functional.

Schedule your inspection now, and your chimney will be ready when you are. Fall festivities, holiday gatherings, and cold winter nights. Do you really you need to give it a second thought? Not when it’s been assessed by a certified chimney professional!

Call a Magic Sweep chimney expert today at 757-523-2400. Are you a realtor or property manager? Let us know, so all of your properties can avoid the fall rush as well.

Masonry Waterproofing Tips

Chimneys are traditionally built from masonry. This is because well-constructed and maintained masonry can withstand the test of time. It is also ideal for chimneys because of it’s porous properties. These allow vapors, heat, and smoke to escape easily. However, the very materials that make it so ideal for a chimney, also make it susceptible to damage caused by weather. It’s vital to keep up with maintenance appointments and preventative care for your masonry chimney! Doing so will keep your chimney efficient, safe, and long-lasting.

Masonry Waterproofing Tips Image - Chesapeake VA - Magic SweepSchedule Annual Inspections

The annual chimney inspection is the only time a certified professional may see your chimney system. This is the time when a chimney sweep will get up close and personal with your masonry, noting inconsistencies, cracks, flaking, and more. The inspection includes all accessible portions of the system. This include the fireplace, chimney, crown, and cap – vital parts of the chimney system that protect it from water damage.

Schedule Repairs as Soon as Possible

Do you notice a problem with your masonry? Discoloration, spalling, cracking, or any significant change in the masonry means you should contact a certified professional! After a diagnostic appointment, he should be able to make a recommendation which may include masonry repairs. If your chimney needs repairs, get them scheduled as soon as possible. Now is the time to make these repairs. The masonry may not be susceptible to water penetration through the upcoming winter months.

Waterproofing Services

After your masonry is built, repaired, or cleaned, you can add even more protection by applying a waterproofing sealant. We recommend it as a regular preventative method that can keep your chimney working properly for longer, despite harsh winters and wet springs. This specially designed sealant is vapor-permeable. The vapors and smoke still escape, but water molecules are unable to get in. A similar product can be applied to the chimney crown to repair cracks and deterioration there, as well.

Visually Inspect the Cap and Flashing

In between your chimney sweeps and annual inspection, you can visually inspect your own chimney components. For instance, your chimney cap should be secured to the top of your chimney flue. If it is crooked or missing, you need to call and have a new one installed. Chimney caps protects the interior of the chimney from water damage. The flashing protects the outside of the chimney, specifically the intersection of the roof and chimney. If you can no longer see flashing where you once did, or if you have a leak in another area in your home, the area around the base of your chimney is most likely leaking!

A masonry chimney is not built and then forgotten. It works every day through the burn season, so it needs periodic attention and preventative maintenance. The best thing you can do for your masonry chimney is to have it waterproofed. At Magic Sweep, we offer these services and more! You can find out what we can do for your masonry chimney by calling 757-523-2400 or using our online scheduling tool.