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Magic Sweep Blog

Chimney and Fireplace Mold

Water can do a number on a masonry fireplace. What happens if moisture is allowed to penetrate into the chimney system? It can cause rot, stains, malfunction, deterioration, leaks, and more. When your damp chimney and fireplace are combined with mold spores, you can’t stop the growth, the damage, or the health risks. The best way to avoid chimney and fireplace mold? Prevent it altogether.

A certified chimney sweep can help you take steps now to avoid mold in the future:

  • Clean the Chimney
    You can avoid chimney and fireplace mold by keeping the chimney system clean. Schedule a chimney sweep with a certified professional today. When the system is clean, it is far less likely to become the ideal environment for mold spores to thrive.
  • Waterproof the Chimney
    Your chimney is a mostly closed system that should be protected from moisture penetration. This is because water destroys masonry from the inside out. Your chimney sweep can make sure your chimney is adequately waterproofed by installing a chimney cap and flashing. Also, applying a waterproofing sealant.
  • Schedule an Inspection
    If there is a problem with any part of your chimney system that can allow water into your chimney, you won’t notice it until there is a major leak or substantial damage. Experts recommend annual inspections to insure homeowners that the chimney is in working order and there is no sign of mold. Neglecting your annual inspection can mean going an entire year without knowing mold is growing in your chimney system. Thus, affecting it’s performance and affecting the air quality in your home.

Mold and Your Health

You can detect mold in your chimney system due to: a musty odor, because you see it on your masonry, or because a professional notified you. If this happens, you should take steps to correct it right away. Mold can cause respiratory issues and chronic illnesses, especially in individuals who have asthma and COPD. The mold and the moisture in your chimney will also affect your chimney’s efficiency. This leads to more particulate matter released into your home, adding to respiratory issues.

What to Do About Mold in Your Chimney

Whether you just have suspicions or you were notified by a professional that you have mold in your chimney, you should take action now. Magic Sweep in Chesapeake, Virginia specializes in chimney maintenance just like this. Our technicians will not only give your chimney the standard once-over, but also treat the masonry for mold, killing it for good! Afterwards, we make recommendations for further water proofing to get your ready for another year of chimney use.

Are you worried about mold? If you smell foul, musty odors from your system, or if you have noticed a leak in your system, Magic Sweep can help you. Call 757-523-2400 today or request an appointment online.

Reducing Fire Hazards

Enjoying fires in your fireplace comes with some responsibilities for safety reasons. Knowing how to reduce fire hazards is very important and can even save your life. At Magic Sweep, safety is our top priority, and we feel strongly about educating our customers on fireplace safety. To help you and your family stay safe this winter, we would like to share some safety tips that can help you reduce any possible fire hazards in your home.

Have your chimney professionally swept and inspected every year.

Maintenance is key when reducing fire hazards, and the most important fireplace and chimney maintenance task is scheduling an appointment with Magic Sweep once a year for our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney sweeps to clean and inspect your chimney. Our professional service will reduce your risk for chimney fires because we will ensure the complete removal of the highly flammable creosote from the inside of your chimney. We will also reduce your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning by inspecting your chimney for any blockages and other damage.

Only burn seasoned firewood in your fireplace.

For the best fires, Magic Sweep strongly recommends you use seasoned firewood, which is wood that has been allowed to dry for at least six months after it has been cut. You should also never burn treated or painted wood as the fumes can be very hazardous. We also want to warn you against using liquid fire starters or accelerants as these can cause a fire to quickly become out of control.

Be sure the damper is open completely before starting a fire.

This mistake can happen to the best of us. You will definitely know very quickly if you forgot to open the damper before starting a fire because smoke will rush into the room. You should also keep the damper open until the fire has been extinguished to reduce your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Keep the area surrounding your fireplace clear of any flammable items.

You will want to keep furniture, rugs, curtains, and any other combustible items at least six feet away from the fireplace when a fire is burning. Hot embers and sparks can jump from the fireplace to ignite an accidental fire, so keeping that area clear greatly reduces fire hazards.

Install a mesh metal screen in front of your fireplace.

To protect your children and pets, a metal fireplace screen can easily be installed. This screen will keep curious kids and animals from getting too close to the fire, and it can also keep the hot embers we just mentioned inside your fireplace as well.
Reducing Fire Hazards - Chesapeake VA - Magic Sweep

Want more fire safety tips? Contact us at Magic Sweep to learn how you can safely enjoy fires this winter.

Fuel Options for a New Fireplace or Stove

If you have been thinking about adding a fireplace or stove or updating your current heating appliance, you do have options when it comes to fuel. As each fuel option has distinct pros and cons, the perfect choice for your household can depend on several things. Do you prefer convenience or is the sensory experience of wood burning more important to you? Are you concerned about the environment? Do you have sufficient space for storing firewood or bags of wood pellets? Our staff at Magic Sweep can help you decide which type of fuel will work best in your home, and we would like to tell you a bit more about the fuel options that are available to you.

GAS

Fuel Options for a New Fireplace or Stove - Chesapeake VA - Magic SweepIf igniting a fire from a remote control sounds good to you, the majority of gas fireplaces and stoves have this option. Convenient and easy, gas fireplaces do not require the chores like sweeping up ashes and bringing in firewood that come with wood-burning appliances. You also will not have to worry about storing fuel. Concerned about safety and efficiency? Magic Sweep thinks you will be happy with the money and energy you will save with a gas fireplace or stove, and our technicians can show you how to use your appliance safely after its installation is complete. With this fuel option, you have several choices of how the appliance is vented. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), the byproducts of combustion from natural draft appliances are vented through an inexpensive Class B pipe that we will install vertically through the roof. Direct vent gas fireplaces and stoves vent through the wall, so the cost of installation is a bit less expensive. This venting option reduces concerns about indoor air quality because the combustion process is completely sealed off from the room.

WOOD

For those who desire the atmosphere created by burning wood, Magic Sweep offers several varieties of this traditional fuel option. New technology has produced wood-burning fireplaces and stoves that burn much cleaner than older appliances, and we have models that have been approved by the EPA as environmentally friendly. If the cost a fuel is a concern, wood is extremely economical and can even be free if you are able to cut your own firewood. When it comes to potential hazards, this fuel option has an increasingly high safety record, and we can give you essential safety tips for using a wood fireplace or stove.

PELLET

Growing in popularity everyday, pellet fireplaces and stoves are perfect for the environmentally conscious. Made of compressed firewood that has been recycled from sawmills, pellets burn cleanly, efficiently, and safely. Operating a pellet fireplace or stove is simple; you just load the pellets into the hopper and turn on the appliance for 24 hours of heat. Available in bags of 40 pounds, pellets can be found right here at Magic Sweep.

Need help choosing the right fuel option for your new fireplace or stove? Contact us at Magic Sweep to talk to our expert staff about which type of appliance will be the perfect fit for your home.

Chimney Sweeps Over Time

The Long And Storied History Of The Chimney Sweep

Many of us likely first became aware of the chimney sweep watching Mary Poppins, as Bert the sweep danced on rooftops, his face spotted with soot. That image, of course, is quite different from the sweeps of today — professional technicians, like the ones at Magic Sweep, employ high-tech video scanners and specially designed vacuums to inspect and sweep chimneys thoroughly, efficiently and cleanly.

But one thing is true about the image Mary Poppins portrayed: You can indeed trace the history of the chimney sweep back to coal-heated days in Europe — though it’s much further than Mary Poppins’ time in the early 1900s. As far back as the 16th century, as fireplaces became a key home heating source, chimney sweeps were employed to remove soot and deposits to help homeowners avoid chimney fires.

The profession has evolved to increase safety for the sweeps and performance for your chimney.

The profession has evolved to increase safety for the sweeps and performance for your chimney.

Busy But Dark Days In Chimney Sweeping History

When coal became more prevalent as a heating source in the 17th century, chimney sweeps became far busier and more popular. Coal residue would build up considerably in flues of the day, leading to fires and dangerous gases that billowed from the chimney into the air in a home. It quickly became clear that the chimney sweep’s trade was key to a safer home and cleaner air.

That period was also a dark one for our business, as it was very common for boys as young as six or seven to be pushed into chimney sweeping work. Many were orphans, and all were working in dangerous conditions, climbing up inside tight and winding, soot-covered chimneys to scrape and brush deposits off by hand. Since health and safety precautions weren’t considered properly, illness — even death — often followed, as those boys breathed sooty air without a ventilator and climbed inside unsafe, unstable structures. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that the practice of using young boys to sweep chimneys was halted. Around that time, chimney sweeping moved forward with the development of long, flexible sweeping brushes by Londoner Joseph Glass (his designs inform the tools chimney sweeps use even to this day).

Fuel Changes Bring Sweeping Changes

The need for chimney sweeps’ work fell out of many home- and business owners’ minds around the 1960s, as gas heating became more popular, since gas doesn’t produce the dangerous creosote deposits that come with burning wood. Things changed again, though, in the ’70s, as gas prices shot up and wood came back in favor. The value of the chimney sweep’s work quickly came into focus again, as flues that hadn’t been tended to in years started being used again, and chimney fires and carbon monoxide leaks followed.

The CSIA Guides Chimney Sweeps Toward More Consistent Work

For many years, a chimney sweep’s approach to the trade was largely up to their own discretion, which led to highly varied results, and highly varied levels of professionalism. The Chimney Safety Institute of America came into play in the 1980s, and their work toward guiding the chimney industry’s practices toward minimizing fires and other hazards made a huge difference. With techniques and practices outlined and coordinated and sweeps educated by the CSIA, homeowners enjoy consistent work, better service and more peace of mind when they hire CSIA-certified technicians.

Magic Sweep technicians undergo the education and testing required to be certified by the CSIA (and we’re members of various industry organizations, including the National Chimney Sweep Guild, the Virginia Association of Chimney & Hearth Professionals and National Fire Protection Association), so when you call us, you know you’re getting industry-leading work and tradespeople who know their trade — even its history.

We don’t just sweep chimneys, either — whatever your chimney system needs might be, from sales and installations to repairs, we can help. Just give Magic Sweep a call!