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Get Your Chimney Swept and Inspected Now to Beat the Fall Rush

Magic Sweep knows that your fireplace is the last thing our customers are thinking about in the summer; however, fall will be here before you know it. National fire safety organizations like the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) strongly recommend that people have their chimneys professionally cleaned and inspected before lighting their first fire every year. Our staff wants you and your family to be safely prepared for cooler weather, and we suggest that you go ahead and schedule your annual chimney sweeping and inspection in the summer so that your fireplace will be ready for that first fire. When you put off making this appointment, you may end up waiting longer than you would like to get your chimney cleaned. Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps have their busiest schedules of the year from September to December, and it can be difficult to schedule a convenient time for your chimney maintenance services. We would like to tell you more about what you can expect from a professional chimney sweeping and inspection from Magic Sweep.

Early Bird Gets the Chimney Sweep - Chesapeake VA

Chimney Sweeping

Magic Sweep promises that our certified chimney sweeps will leave your home as clean or even cleaner than when we came in after we sweep and inspect your chimney. Before we start cleaning your chimney, we will place drop cloths over your floor and your furniture to protect them from getting dirty. To keep all of the soot and dust from the sweeping process contained, we use a state-of-the-art vacuum system equipped with a HEPA filter. Our sweeps use special hand tools and brushes to scrub and scrape your firebox clean and then continue the cleaning by sweeping the flue from the roof with brushes and scrapers on poles to remove creosote deposits, soot, and debris from the walls of the flue. We will then clean up all of the soot and debris that fell from your chimney, clean the inside of your fireplace, and vacuum away any remaining dust and debris.

Chimney Inspection

To ensure your fireplace and chimney system works properly and safely, an annual chimney inspection is recommended by the CSIA and NFPA. Our chimney professionals at Magic Sweep are experienced in providing all three levels of chimney inspections. We follow every guideline set by the NFPA in these levels and will perform the necessary level of inspection for your particular situation. The most common level, Level 1, is a basic visual examination of your chimney and venting system to look for any damage or deterioration that could cause operational or safety problems. If you are buying or selling a home or have updated your heating appliance, you will need the more detailed Level 2 inspection. If your chimney has experienced a fire, a Level 3 inspection is necessary to guarantee the system is safe to use. You can trust our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps to give you the level of chimney inspection that you need.

Beat the fall rush! Contact Magic Sweep to schedule your annual chimney sweeping and inspection to be sure your fireplace and chimney functions safely and correctly.

Why a Spring Chimney Inspection Is So Important

We know it may be hard to believe with the recent big winter storms, but spring is on its way! Spring is the best time to contact Magic Sweep for a chimney sweeping and inspection for several reasons. The first reason is that the least busiest time of year for us, so you will not have to wait for weeks for an open appointment. Another reason is that your chimney is in need of attention as well after working all winter to keep you warm. Lastly, cold winter weather can cause a lot of damage to a chimney, and you may have crucial repair work that needs to be addressed. We would like to share with you some suggestions on what you can do this spring to ensure your chimney works safely and properly.

Spring Chimney Inspection - Chesapeake VA

Make a post-winter appointment for your annual chimney sweep and inspection.

As recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), your fireplace and chimney should be swept and inspected every year for proper maintenance. It is essential to be sure your chimney is functioning correctly with proper ventilation. You want it to be free of debris blockages and dangerous creosote build-up. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps at Magic Sweep will thoroughly clean your fireplace and chimney, from top to bottom, as well as carefully examine the exterior and interior of your chimney to check for any fire hazards. Scheduling an inspection with our technicians allows us to check for damages and needed repair work, which can include:

  • Chimney Relining – If we find any damage to your flue liner during your chimney inspection, spring is the perfect time to have your chimney relined. Our CSIA-certified technicians at Magic Sweep have much expertise in both repairing damaged flue liners and replacing liners that are beyond repair. A functioning flue liner is essential for safety reasons because it protects your chimney walls from smoke and toxic gases, which prevents chimney fires from starting. Your chimney either has a clay or a metal liner. A clay liner can crack, and when this happens, carbon monoxide can leak into your house, causing serious health issues. Aluminum liners can rust and corrode, or even be damaged by animals. We can repair and replace your old clay flue liner with HeatShield or by the cast-in-place method; however, if your clay liner is beyond repair, we recommend a newer stainless steel flue liner as it is durable and comes with a lifetime warranty when professionally installed.
  • Damper or Chimney Cap Replacement – The CSIA has said that the efficiency of these two parts of your chimney is crucial to saving energy and money, as well as keeping water leaks out during the spring and summer months. If your damper is stuck open, it is the same thing as leaving a window in your house open. Cold air escapes, bugs get in, the rain pours into your house, etc. If the damper is stuck closed, you cannot start a fire because your flue is closed-off and unable to filter smoke and gases. Similarly, your chimney cap fitting correctly on the top of your chimney is very important because not only does it also keep rain out of your chimney, but it prevents stray animals from setting up home there.
  • Water Leak Repairs – Freezing temperatures can cause the bricks and mortar of your chimney to crack and become loose, which causes water to penetrate your chimney. Magic Sweep can identify and repair areas allowing water to leak into your chimney and home, and we can apply several preventive measures to keep the water out of your chimney.

If you would like to schedule an appointment for your annual chimney sweep and inspection, with our CSIA-certified sweeps, contact Magic Sweep today. We are happy to help you with any chimney needs you have.

Consider a Post-Winter Chimney Sweeping

We know it may be difficult to believe, but spring is on its way, and fireplace season will be slowing down. To be sure your chimney is safe after a heavy usage during a long and cold winter, scheduling your annual chimney sweeping and inspection now is essential, especially if your chimney is in need of important repairs. At Magic Sweep, one of our busiest times of the year is the spring, and if you procrastinate for too long, you may have to wait for several weeks before you can arrange an appointment for our certified technicians to visit your home to clean, examine, and repair your chimney. According to fire safety organizations such as the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), it is recommended you schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection once every year. We would like to share with you the important chimney maintenance steps our chimney technicians will take to find essential repairs needed to make your fireplace and chimney system safe.

Late Winter Chimney Inspection - Magic Sweep

Chimney Sweeping

When the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified sweeps at Magic Sweep clean your chimney after winter, our main concern is removing all of the creosote deposits that have accumulated on the walls of your chimney. Forming naturally as the by-products of combustion (smoke, gases, tar fog, vapors, etc) exit the cooler walls of your upper chimney, creosote is the highly combustible result of the condensation that occurs. Creosote can be either black or brown, and its appearance can vary. Whether it is sticky and gummy, crispy and brittle, or shiny and hard, creosote, especially in large amounts, is extremely flammable, which makes it the cause of a majority of chimney fires. Getting rid of these creosote buildups after winter’s heavy fireplace usage is essential to the safety of your chimney.

Chimney Inspecting

Magic Sweep takes pride in performing detailed post-winter chimney inspections because we want to find any damage that needs repairing to ensure the safety of your fireplace and chimney. Of course, we seriously examine every part of your chimney; however, there are specific repairs we are looking for, including the following:

  • damaged or deteriorated masonry – Loose bricks and chipped mortar on the exterior of your chimney are sure signs of water penetration damage, and this alerts us to the possibility of water leaking inside your chimney that creates even more damage to its interior. If this masonry damage goes unrepaired, you will end up with costly repair work, including a possible rebuild of your entire chimney.
  • cracks in the chimney cap – Your chimney cap serves as protection from both water and animal intrusions of your chimney. A deteriorated chimney cap serves no help at all to your chimney. We can repair cracks and other damage to chimney caps as well as install new caps if the existing caps are beyond repairing.
  • cracks and holes in the chimney flue liner – Water leaks can cause serious damage to the liner of your chimney that can endanger your family’s health. A deteriorating flue liner allows toxic gases like carbon monoxide to leak into your home. Repairing or replacing a damaged chimney flue liner will keep those gases exiting out of your chimney instead of infiltrating the interior air of your home.

Save yourself the hassle of waiting for weeks to maintain your chimney after winter by contacting Magic Sweep now. We are happy to schedule an appointment for your annual sweeping and inspection as well as perform all necessary repairs.

All About Creosote and Its Dangers

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you most likely have creosote deposits in your chimney right now. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), creosote occurs naturally during the wood-burning process, and when it builds up in your chimney on its walls, it creates a dangerous fire hazard as creosote is a highly combustible compound. For this reason, your chimney needs to be swept at least annually by a company like Magic Sweep with CSIA-certified chimney sweeps to remove creosote accumulation to prevent a chimney fire in your home. We would like to tell you more about creosote and how the expert chimney sweeps at Magic Sweep remove the built-up creosote deposits from your chimney.

Creosote Deposits - Chesapeake VA - Magic Sweep

This image is courtesy of Dennis Lamb of Mad Hatter Chimney Service in Indianapolis IN.

How does creosote form?

When wood burns, it gives off by-products of combustion such as smoke, gases, vapors, unburned wood particles, tar fog, and hydrocarbon that your chimney needs to expel from your home as they can be hazardous to breathe. When these substances flow through the cooler, upper part of your chimney, condensation happens, and that is when creosote forms as a residue that sticks to the walls of your chimney.

What does creosote look like?

Creosote can take on different appearances. Whether it is black or brown in color, hard and shiny, gummy and sticky, or flaky and crusty, creosote is dangerous no matter what it looks like.

How does accumulations of creosote cause chimney fires?

A highly combustible material, creosote can build up into large enough amounts that can easily ignite if the internal flue temperature is high enough.

What kind of conditions encourage the development of creosote?

According to the CSIA, restricted air flow, unseasoned firewood, and cooler than normal chimney temperatures all give an optimum atmosphere for creosote to accumulate. Always be sure your damper and glass fireplace doors are opened when you are burning a fire to allow the heated smoke to exit your chimney more rapidly. Always use seasoned firewood as burning unseasoned wood wastes so much energy burning off the water hidden in the wood cells and creates a cooler smoke. You want the smoke that leaves your chimney to be as hot as possible to keep the chimney temperatures warm.

How do you remove creosote from chimney walls?

There is an important reason the CSIA, the National Fire Prevention Association, and other fire safety groups recommend you have your chimney professionally swept annually: clean chimneys do not start chimney fires. The CSIA-certified chimney sweeps at Magic Sweep will perform a thorough cleaning that will ensure no creosote deposits are left behind.

If you have not arranged your annual chimney sweeping this year, contact Magic Sweep to schedule an appointment to have the creosote deposits removed by our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps. Keep your chimney safe from fires with this simple maintenance step.

Oil Chimney Flues Also Need Cleaning and Maintenance

A common misunderstanding about oil-fired appliances is that the oil burner company cleans and inspects the entire chimney system during its annual maintenance service. However, very rarely does an oil service technician do anything at all to the oil flue. Nor will the oil company examine the exterior masonry work on a chimney, so important repair issues can go unnoticed. Recommended by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), the National Fire Protection Association, and other national fireplace and chimney organizations, your chimney should undergo a Level 1 inspection annually by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep, like our technicians at Magic Sweep. This includes oil-fired appliance chimneys as well. Neglecting the essential chimney maintenance tasks can lead to expensive repairs to your chimney. Magic Sweep would like to tell you more about the specifics concerning the cleaning and maintenance of oil chimney flues.

Soot on Your Chimney - Chesapeake VA - Magic Sweep

The Problem with Soot

As the chimney walls of wood-burning fireplaces can be covered with large deposits of creosote build-up, the walls of your oil flue can become lined with soot residue. Your oil-fired appliance generally endures long running times during the cold winter months. Soot is produced from these long run cycles, and this oil soot first sticks to the chimney’s walls. Sooner or later, this soot can fall to the base of a masonry chimney or even inside the oil-fired appliance.

The Danger of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

If the build-up of soot becomes large enough, it can block your chimney’s flue and restrict the outward flow of gases like carbon dioxide, water vapor, and nitrogen. Another gas formed as a by-product of combustion is the dangerously toxic carbon monoxide. Odorless and tasteless, you may not even know when carbon monoxide has been leaking into your home until you and/or your family begin suffering symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. All oil-fueled appliances need to be properly vented so that carbon monoxide and other gases can exit out the chimney. The base of the chimney should also be completely swept. An annual chimney sweeping and inspection from Magic Sweep can prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide entering your home via your chimney appliance.

The Role of Sulphur in Damaging Chimney Liners

Oil soot is made up of a combination of carbon and sulphur. Rainwater and other moisture mixes together with sulphur, which gets absorbed into the flue tiles and masonry work and starts the deterioration process of spalling. Your annual chimney sweeping will clean the walls from soot deposits to protect your chimney from damage. Metal chimneys are not immune to the destructive side of sulphur. A sulphuric acid reaction will begin to corrode the stainless steel liner by forming pinholes, which renders the liner unable to contain the by-products of combustion. Spalling and cracking in a clay liner compromises its purpose as well. A damaged flue liner creates potential health hazards, such as carbon monoxide leaks, to you and your family. A chimney inspection will find a damaged liner, which will allow you to have it repaired or replaced.

If you have any further questions about the cleaning and maintenance of oil flues, contact Magic Sweep today to ask our expert staff. You can also schedule your annual chimney sweeping and inspection to protect your oil flue from any damage or deterioration caused by soot deposits.