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Magic Sweep Blog

We Still Have Holiday Deals

The shopping frenzy following Thanksgiving may be over, but there are still plenty of deals to take advantage of. There may be only one Black Friday in the year, but we aim to keep our customers happy year-round. At Magic Sweep we offer expert services, the highest level of professionalism, and top-of-the-line products. It’s time our customers took advantage of one more thing—coupons!

Magic Sweep Coupons

When you are making your last-minute purchases this holiday season, you can save money on something that you really need. Just print, and present to your technician at time of service.

Save on Chimney Sweeps

A chimney sweep can typically cost between $125-$250 depending on the location, the level inspection, and the type of chimney and its condition, according to Angie’s List. These sweeps are necessary to keep your chimney working properly, and to prevent fires, malfunction, and pesky problems like a smoky or stinky fireplace. Spending the regular cost of chimney sweeps can save you money on repairs and maintenance in the long-run.

Use a Magic Sweep Coupon and save $10 on your next chimney sweep!

Save on Gas Logs

Gas logs have been growing in popularity because they are easy to install and offer a nice fire. Some log sets are designed specifically to look like the wood species of your choice. There are also vent-less gas logs that don’t even need a chimney. These are a popular option for homeowners who don’t have a chimney, or have an unsafe chimney but still want a fire. Log sets are safe, can produce a good amount of heat, and are affordable. Now they can be even more affordable.

Use a Magic Sweep Coupon, and save $25 off of your purchase of gas logs.

Save on Dryer Vent Cleaning

Our deals don’t extend only to our hearth services and products. It’s our goal at Magic Sweep to keep our neighbors safe in and around the Hampton Roads and Tidewater area. This includes offering services to prevent dryer vent fires. Having your dryer vents cleaned raises efficiency in your appliance, saves you money, extends the life of your appliance, and prevents devastating fires. Dryer vent fires usually happen overnight while the family is sleeping (with the dryer running), and these fires happen most in January. Schedule your dryer vent cleaning now, and let Magic Sweep keep you safer this winter.

Use a Magic Sweep Coupon and save $10 on your dryer vent cleaning.

Save on Air Duct Cleaning

Just like a dryer vent can become filled with debris (lint), your household air ducts can become dirty with dust, pet hair, rodent droppings, moisture, and even mold. Since this is the air that circulates through your central air and heating system, a dirty system can affect the quality of the air you breathe. Having the air ducts cleaned periodically can prevent respiratory and health issues, can raise efficiency, and save you money.

Use a Magic Sweep Coupon and save $25 on your air duct cleaning.

To schedule your services today, get the expert advice of a Magic Sweep technician, shop for your dream fireplace, and more call Magic Sweep today at 757-523-2400.

Types of Inserts, and Which One is Right for You?

Inserts can be the answer to your fireplace woes. They are easy to install, affordable, good for the environment, and beautiful! If you’re thinking about upgrading an old fireplace, or installing your first fireplace, an insert is only a phone call away. When you get started with a professional now, you can have your insert installed before Christmas!

The Best Fuel for Your Insert

Choose a gas insert if you want a more efficient heat machine. If you have a store of firewood on your property that you can cut from, you may want to go with wood. Inserts are all highly efficient and stylish, no matter what fuel they burn.

Gas Inserts – Gas is the most efficient fuel. It produces less soot, and no creosote, so it requires fewer cleanings than wood inserts. Gas appliances are also more convenient than wood, with easy on/off switches and easy temperature controls. Direct vent gas inserts don’t even require a chimney, but only a vent in a wall or ceiling. These appliances can be installed anywhere, whereas a regular insert is retrofitted directly into the existing fireplace.

Wood Inserts – Wood inserts are more efficient than a traditional open wood fireplace. They capture more of the heat from the fire and redirect it into the house and up the chimney for a more efficient burn. If you choose a wood insert, you will need a store of properly seasoned firewood, that has been cut and set aside to dry for 3-6 months. Burning green wood or other inappropriate burning materials results in flue fire, extra creosote, and a drop in efficiency. A wood insert will require your attention to light and maintain a fire.

Pellet Inserts – A pellet stove burns manufactured products called pellets. Made from organic wood byproducts, pellets are eco-friendly, burn cleanly, and burn as hot as wood. When you choose a pellet stove, you get some of the benefits of gas, but the intense and beautiful flame of a wood fire. Pellets can maintain a consistent temperature due to a hopper that feeds pellets into the fire determined by a thermostat. In addition, pellets do need to be purchased and stored.

Call Magic Sweep Today!

When you start your search with Magic Sweep, you will have the input of the fireplace experts from the start. We know which will best suit you, which new features you can benefit from, and which inserts will best heat the space you need. If you come out to our show-room and realize you don’t want an insert at all, we can help fit you with a stove that will get the job done.

Choose Magic Sweep, the #1 choice for chimney care for the Hampton Roads/Tidewater area. Call 757-523-2400 today!

Decorate Your Mantel For the Holidays

The fireplace mantel is a focal point in most home decor. Many families take family photos in front of the fireplace, and the mantel is decorated and beautiful for the occasion. Nothing adds to your holiday experience quite like a crackling fire and a beautiful hearth.

Fireplace Face Lift

You can make sure your mantel looks the best it can when you upgrade a tired fireplace. Our Magic Sweep masons are able to fix small cosmetic issues with your hearth, or reface the whole thing completely with the brick or stone of your choice. This is a great way to finish off a remodel and have a matching mantel to go with your holiday decor as well!

Choose Your Mantel

You do not have to keep the mantel that came with your house. You don’t have to continue to use a mantel that you aren’t happy with. Maybe you don’t have a mantel at all! Magic Sweep can help you out. Our technicians can remove or cover an unsightly mantel, or build one from scratch that compliments your fireplace and your personality, even to custom specifications.

Installing a New Fireplace

You might have the mantel you want, but your fireplace is old, rusted, or worn out in general. You can raise your fireplace’s safety and efficiency by choosing an insert that fits right into your existing fireplace. Choose an option that complements your existing mantel, and your entire hearth will have a new look–and save you money in the long run!

Inserts and stoves are more efficient than traditional open fireplaces and will save you money year-round.

Clean Fireplace for Family Gatherings

Your mantel is part of a larger system that should be kept clean and functional. You can make sure your fireplace is photo-ready when your family gets together by scheduling a routine chimney sweep. A clean chimney means a hotter, more efficient fire, less smoke, and more fun. Schedule a chimney sweep if you haven’t had one in the last year, and don’t worry about dirt, debris, and creosote messing up your holidays.

Safe Holiday Decorating

When you are decorating your mantel for the holidays, hanging stockings and more, make sure that you are being safe. Stand your Christmas tree far enough away from the hearth that it will not reach the fire even if it falls. Do not hang stockings or decorations while the fire is lit. Make sure they are removable for when the fire is burning. Secure garland with staples or hooks so that it will not fall into the fire. When it comes to your chimney, you may not be able to attach hooks to it. Ask a Magic Sweep chimney expert before attaching hooks or hanging decorations onto your masonry chimney. Check out this message for more holiday safety tips.

The holidays are a great time for your family to gather around a beautiful and warm fireplace. Do not let your time be ruined by an unsafe hearth and don’t let your pictures be ruined by an unsightly mantel. Call Magic Sweep today at 757-523-2400 and ask a hearth expert how to make your mantel look its best this season.

Where Have the Birds Gone?

This spring you might have had a visitor or two in your chimney. The best indicator that you have had birds in your chimney is the chirping and chattering taking place in your flue. You might not be able to see them, but you’ll hear them. Usually, when you find animals in your chimney, you can call a certified chimney sweep to have them removed. This is not the case with chimney swifts. Chimney swifts, are federally protected and cannot be removed or harmed while nesting.

Chimney Swifts Love Chimneys

Chimney swifts historically nested in hollow trees across the US. As the trees were cut down and land was developed, these birds had no place to go. They found an alternative in similarly shaped hollow towers that are plentiful in North America–chimneys! Chimney swifts are prominent in the Hampton Roads/Tidewater area, and some homeowners are surprised to find them in the spring. Others plan for their arrival each year, because if a mating pair nests in your chimney, they will be back. The only way to stop them is to install a proper cap that will keep them out.

Schedule a Chimney Sweep Now

If you have had chimney swifts nesting in your flue this spring and summer, they should be gone now, and left a mess for you to clean up. Nesting materials, feathers, droppings, and other debris is probably still in your chimney, and it’s all flammable. In order for your chimney system to be safe and efficient, it needs to be clean and functional.

When you schedule a chimney sweep with Magic Sweep, you can rest assured your chimney will be cleaned of debris, soot, creosote, and ash. Our technicians come into the home and leave everything just as it was upon arrival. With a special vacuuming system, brushes and tools, we will also leave your chimney flue clean and safe for your winter fire!

Prevent Animal Intrusion

You can avoid nesting chimney swifts by installing a cap at the top of your chimney. A cap should have a mesh portion that keeps animals of even the smallest species from getting in. Environmentally-conscious homeowners can even choose to support chimney swift conservation by building a chimney swift tower. In some communities, neighbors can band together to build structures to help maintain the chimney swift population, while protecting chimneys.

At Magic Sweep, we want what’s best for the environment, but our first priority is the safety of our customers. If you let chimney swifts into your chimney flue accidentally, or on purpose, it is important that it is cleaned before your first fire. Call Magic Sweep today for a chimney sweep. If you want to prevent their arrival next year, schedule an inspection to ensure they cannot penetrate the system.

Schedule an appointment today by calling 757-523-2400 or schedule online.

Combustibles Too Close To Chimney Or Fireplace

So, you have just been told you have combustibles in contact with your chimney or fireplace. Now what?

During an inspection or estimate, someone mentioned to you that you have combustible material (studs, framing, plywood, even sheet rock) either too close or in actual contact with your masonry fireplace and/or chimney.

These brings up many questions:

  • How much clearance is required?
  • How did this happen?
  • Is it a problem?
  • Am I required to do anything about it?
  • What can I do about it?

How much clearance is required?

Current building codes call for four inches of clearance on the back wall of the fireplace (because this is where the fire is hottest) and two inches of clearance on the fireplace side walls and the smoke chamber walls. Interior chimneys (built inside the home) require two inch clearance while exterior chimneys (built outside the home) require one inch clearance to combustibles.

How did it happen?

The answer to this can be two-fold. In many cases, your fireplace and chimney was built before the building codes existed or before building codes recognized the need for clearance. In Virginia, this generally means before 1973 but that date is not absolute as some cities and counties required clearance to chimneys and fireplaces before that time. In other cases, the people who built the fireplace/chimney and the house ignored the requirements to provide adequate clearance to combustibles. This certainly was common in the first few years after clearance requirements went into effect but unfortunately we still see this from time to time in current construction.


Is it a problem?

Well, it certainly can be. Inadequate clearance to combustibles is cited in many fire reports, and ultimately that is the reason building codes were updated to include clearance requirements. But what about the millions of homes that were built without clearance to combustibles, they aren’t all burning down are they?, you might ask. No, they aren’t, at least not most of them. So what’s the big deal? The big deal is this – combustibles in contact with your fireplace or chimney may cause a fire and it is hard to predict when that will be. In most fire reports we see, the cause of the fire is multi-factored with lack of adequate clearance being one of several factors that led to the fire.

Some of those other factors include:

  • Other construction defects
    Defects such as inadequate wall thickness around the fireplace or smoke chamber. Fireplace and smoke chamber walls are required to be eight inches thick, which generally means two courses of brick. If the mason skimped on brick and only used one course of brick and there is no clearance, that is a significant problem.
  • Pre-existing damage
    If the chimney has damage such as soft or open mortar joints, cracked flue liners, loose bricks, etc and improper clearance this would represent a problem as well. Pre-existing damage may be the result of age and normal deterioration or some sudden occurrence event like a chimney fire or lightning strike.
  • Unlined chimney flue
    A chimney built without a flue liner and with improper clearances poses a great hazard. Current thinking is that unlined chimneys are unsafe to use.
  • Long duration fires
    Masonry fireplaces can absorb a lot of heat but will ultimately transfer that heat through the walls. In a typical “entertainment oriented” fire of two to four hours the structure doesn’t get hot enough to ignite combustibles. But if the fire is kept going for long periods or multiple days the heat will transfer through the masonry and ignition of nearby combustibles is possible. Long duration fires often occur during power outages where the fireplace is the only source of heat.
  • Time
    Combustibles like wood dry out when exposed to heat, even low levels of heat over long periods can lower the ignition temperature of nearby combustibles, especially if they are in contact with the heat producing appliance or device. This is known as pyrolysis and is the cause of many fires, especially around appliances that run for long periods like wood-stoves or heating systems. With pyrolysis, the ignition temperature of the combustibles is gradually lowered (over many years) until spontaneous ignition takes place. For this reason, you shouldn’t assume that because you haven’t had a problem in fifty years that you won’t have a problem. The likelihood of a problem actually goes up over time due to pyrolysis.
  • Chimney Fire During a chimney fire, the temperature in the chimney can exceed 2000 degrees. This can be enough to ignite combustibles adjacent to the chimney.

Am I required to do anything about it?

This is another great question with uncertain answers. If your fireplace/chimney was built before the building codes required clearance then your system should be “grandfathered” and you are (probably) not legally required to make corrections. Since this question involves many considerations such as the age of your home, laws and ordinances that were in effect at the time of construction, etc it is beyond the expertise of your chimney service professional to make this decision for you. Another question is “Should I do anything about it?” Even if you aren’t legally required to make changes to the system it may still be advisable to do so. After all, the codes were changed due to a known fire risk. Consider all the factors noted above and weigh that with your own personal tolerance for risk.

What can I do about it?

There are a couple options for repair. One option is to have a carpenter/framer remove the combustibles that are in contact with the fireplace or chimney, and move them back to achieve the recommended clearance. Another option is the installation of some type of zero-clearance liner system, which might be a liner for just the chimney or a liner for the fireplace and chimney. Some inserts are approved for installation in chimneys without clearance. Liners are a good option when there may be concealed combustibles in contact with the fireplace or chimney, as the concealed areas are harder to evaluate, access and repair.