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Magic Sweep Blog

When Was Your Last Chimney Inspection?

If you cannot recall your last chimney inspection, you need to call a chimney sweep now. Many homeowners assume the chimney was inspected before purchasing the home. However, this is often not the case! Home and chimney inspections are often separate. When it’s time to schedule your chimney inspection, put your trust in the hands of a CSIA-certified professional.

Schedule Now

When Was Your Last Chimney Inspection - Chesapeake VA - Magic SweepIf you haven’t had a chimney inspection in the last 12 months, now is the time. Scheduling in the spring will identify problems so they can be addressed during the off-season. This gives you time to make necessary repairs, ready the chimney system for burn season this fall, and prevent water damage. Your chimney should be your top priority, and your safety is our top priority!

Magic Sweep Inspections

When you trust Magic Sweep, you get a CSIA certified professional to perform your inspection. CSIA inspections include three different levels.

Level One – Recommended annually, they include a basic inspection of all readily accessible portions of the chimney system. This is a visual inspection only.

Level Two – More thorough than a level one inspections, this includes readily-accessible portions as well as the chimney exterior and interior. Interior portions include parts in attics, basements, and crawlspaces. A level two inspection includes a video scan of the chimney’s interior. This inspection is required if a change is made to the system, if a natural disaster or fire has occurred that might affect the chimney system, and before the sale or transfer of the property.

Level Three – This is a thorough investigation of a hazard that may include the removal of components (walls, masonry, etc.) in order to gain access to the hazard. If destructive action to the building is necessary, your chimney sweep will discuss the level three inspection before proceeding.

It’s not just Magic Sweep that recommends chimney inspections for proper function and safety year after year. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) both recommend annual inspections for the safest and most efficient chimney system possible. Inspecting the chimney system every 12 months may save your life. It may prevent thousands of dollars in damaged property, necessary repairs, and more. Don’t risk your health or your home! Call Magic Sweep today at 757-523-2400!

Check Out Our Homeowner’s Guide

It’s no secret homeowners love fires—fireplaces, stoves, inserts, even fire pits, and grills outside. You may have chosen a fireplace, or you may have recently purchased a home with one. Regardless, it’s important to know and understand what you’re getting into. A fire appliance can offer many benefits, but you can avoid potential drawbacks when you know your system inside and out. In this world of fast-paced living, web-surfing, and blogrolls, it may be hard to sit down and read a manual or user guide. We have the perfect Homeowner’s Guide —a fantastic resource for any homeowner, any appliance, any climate.

It’s a lot of information—so here are some important points:

1. Getting Started

You won’t have your dream fireplace all at once, but when you start with the professionals, you can have a safe and beautiful hearth that will last and add comfort and value to your home. Browse our showroom and catalog to find the best product. Schedule a professional installation and then make sure you have all the information about your appliance (including user guides and warranty information).

2. Fuel Type

Your fireplace or appliance will only burn a certain type of fuel. Wood stoves, fireplaces, and inserts should only burn properly seasoned firewood. Gas appliances will only burn gas, and pellet appliances will only burn pellets. It’s not only the appliance, but your flue liner may also be equipped with only one fuel type. You cannot use a clay tile liner for a gas appliance. A stainless-steel liner works for all fuel types, is long-lasting, and leaves your options wide open.

3. Building a Fire

If you’re using wood, you will be building fires regularly, and there are a couple ways to build an efficient one. A popular fire-building technique among professionals is the top-down burn, in which the large fuel is on the bottom, and decreases in size until kindling and shavings are laid on top. Traditional fire-building also works well if you have adequate airflow.

4. How the Chimney Works

You may read the user guide for your specific appliance, but you will still need to understand the chimney system and how it works. Even if you have a decent fire built, if it doesn’t have enough oxygen feeding it, it will not burn. If the chimney is cold, it can be difficult to light a fire. If a cap is missing and the air is blowing in, it can also make it difficult. It’s also important to know how to troubleshoot chimney problems for yourself, before calling in the professionals.

5. Professional Services

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend routine maintenance for the safest and most efficient chimney system. Magic Sweep offers inspections and sweeps year-round, as well as a variety of installations and repairs.

We want you to feel comfortable with your fire appliance and chimney system. Magic Sweep is the #1 choice for comprehensive chimney care in the Hampton Roads and Tidewater area. If our Homeowner’s Guide doesn’t have an answer for you, our chimney and fireplace experts will.

Call today at 757-523-2400!

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.

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.

Schedule 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.

Get a Jump-Start on Your Annual Chimney Cleaning by Scheduling Now

Everyone loves the warm temperatures of summer – at least for a few weeks. Whether you love it or hate it, the summer months never last quiet as long as expected. Before we know it, temperatures are dipping again, and it’s important to be ready for it. You spring clean to prepare for another year of wear and tear, and clutter. You pack away seasonal clothes in order to find them when the weather changes. We like to prepare ahead of time! You can make sure your chimney is prepared ahead of schedule as well.

Preventative Maintenance

Both the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend annual chimney maintenance to keep your chimney at it’s safest and most efficient. When your chimney system works properly, it means less repairs, less wear and tear, and less danger overall.

  • Routine chimney sweeps are essential for a healthy chimney system.
    The soot and creosote produced by your fire can coat the inside of the system causing corrosion, buildup, and fire danger.
  • Annual chimney inspections are more than a cleaning.
    They involve a thorough assessment of your chimney system by a certified chimney sweep who is trained to spot weaknesses before damage occurs. Afterwards, offer the homeowner a report and a detailed repair plan. For more information on the three levels of inspection, click here.

Forward Scheduling

Schedule your annual chimney sweep today and avoid the fall rush. The fall rush is the time between October and January in which chimney sweep companies are busy with emergency calls, installations, inspections, and more. During this time it can be difficult to get a desired appointment time, technician, or even the company you want. You can avoid the hassle of the fall rush by scheduling in advance. Magic Sweep takes appointments a year in advance! You can schedule your chimney sweep for next year; and don’t think about it again until a technician calls you to confirm.

Summer Scheduling

You can benefit by scheduling your chimney sweep during the summer months for a variety of reasons.

  • Scheduling during the off season means you don’t have to go without your fireplace before the chimney sweep. Your fire is already out.
  • A clean chimney system means no foul, summer odors. Summer humidity mingles with soot and creosote to create unwelcome odors.
  • Chimney maintenance in the summer means you have several weeks to make necessary repairs. Even during a chimney sweep, an experienced chimney expert can spot a problem or weakness and recommend repairs.
  • Summer work can be easier on the wallet due to tax refunds and avoiding major holidays.

When you schedule your chimney sweep now, you ensure your chimney is ready for winter. Make sure your chimney is ready with the Three S’s: SAFE, SATISFACTORY, and STANDARD. By hiring a professional now, your winter fires will be safe for your family, warm, and up to code! Schedule now online or by phone at 757-523-2400.