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Magic Sweep Blog

Save Money With a Top Damper

Many chimneys today are equipped with throat dampers from ages ago. Most masonry chimneys and fire appliances utilize throat dampersTop-Mounted Dampers - Chesapeake VA which open and close the airway from the fire to the flue. This is an essential part of the chimney system and without it, the fire can be difficult to light and maintain, drafts can cause conditioned and heated air waste when the fireplace is not in use and can cause smoky fires when it becomes stuck. If you suspect problems with your damper, it’s important to call a professional right away. Do not use your fireplace if your damper is not working properly. This is unsafe for your family and puts your home at risk.

Throat Dampers Waste Money

A damaged or aged throat damper may waste a significant amount of money throughout the year, but the fact is that you’re wasting money even when the throat damper works properly. The standard throat damper is made of metal and the seal is not airtight, allowing drafts to affect temperatures inside the house. You may be losing up to 75 percent of your heated or conditioned air up the chimney, especially if your damper is damaged. You can start saving money right now by installing a top damper.

Energy Saving Dampers

Top mount dampers are also called energy saving dampers because they do the job of the damper while also saving energy, thereby saving money. The top damper is installed on top of the flue and doubles as a chimney cap, keeping animals, water, and other weather out of the flue system. The protection of a chimney cap prevents future damage caused by weather and animal intrusion. The top mount damper takes it one step further, protecting your flue from the top down with an airtight seal. While standard throat dampers take on damage from high temperatures, humidity, soot and creosote buildup, and more, the top mount damper lasts long and protects just as long.

How it works

Installed at the top of the chimney flue, the top mount damper is engaged by a cord that reaches from the damper to the fireplace opening. With the pull of a cord, the damper closes with an airtight seal. When open, the damper acts as a chimney cap, with a roof and a mesh barrier to deter animals and prevent sparks from escaping. When the fireplace is in use the damper must stay open at all times. When the fire is out, the damper can be closed, shutting off the system to the outside completely. No water, weather, or animals can get in when it’s closed. Humidity will not affect the flue, air will not come in or go out, and exterior factors such as wildfire smoke will not be allowed in either. The top mount damper is ideal for chimneys that have a damaged throat damper or damaged chimney cap. They’re easy to install and maintain, and can be easily replaced if necessary.

Magic Sweep installs top mount dampers for homeowners in the Hampton Roads and Tidewater areas. We also complete work for realtors and property managers. Call Magic Sweep to find out how we can save you money with a top damper today.

Call 757-523-2400 today.

We Offer Three Levels of Chimney Inspections

Chimney inspections are what keeps homes and businesses safe in the way that inspections keep car manufacturers accountable with certain safety standards and keep owners accountable for safety on the road. The industry standard for chimney safety and efficiency is the CSIA inspection, and we stand by it. That’s why we offer the three levels of chimney inspections which cover all the bases.

Level One

A level one inspection is necessary annually even when there aren’t changes made to the system, no problems noticed, and it is used in the same manner as always. This inspection is an examination of all readily accessible portions of the chimney exterior and interior and connections. After a level one inspection, the homeowner can rest assured that the flue is free of deposits and obstructions and it is safe for another year of use.

Level Two

The level two inspection is required when a problem is noticed during a level one inspection. It is also required before the sale or transfer of property, when changes have been made to the system, and if there has been any occurrence that can affect the system such as tornado or flue fire. A level two inspection includes all that in a level one in addition to the accessible portions of the chimney that are in the attic, basement, or crawlspace. A level two inspection also includes a video scan which provides footage of the entire system.

Level Three

If a hazard is detected in a level one or two inspection, a level three is necessary to gain access so that a professional can assess and repair the problem. During a level three inspection your chimney sweep may need to remove components of the home or chimney to gain access to the suspected hazard. This may include removal of the crown, chimney wall, or other wood or panels. This inspection is warranted when a serious hazard is suspected and should not be overlooked.

Magic Sweep Inspections

The best thing you can do for your home and family is to schedule a chimney inspection this spring. According to the two most trusted organizations in the industry, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the safest and most efficient chimneys are those that are serviced regularly. We provide these services because we value our customers. Keep your chimney system properly maintained and you’ll need fewer service appointments. Schedule inspections annually and any problems will be caught early and corrected easily.

Whether you’re a homeowner, a REALTOR, or property manager, call and schedule a Magic Sweep inspection now. Dial 757-523-2400 or request an appointment online.

What Does the Magic Sweep Process Look Like

Have you recently scheduled your chimney services for 2019? Maybe you’re not sure what to expect. Maybe you’re not convinced this is necessary. Whatever you’re thinking, we’ve thought about it. Our staff at Magic Sweep are homeowners–not just that, but we’re fireplace owners! We know how nerve-wracking it can be to have people coming in and out of our homes, and to work on something that we don’t see. However nerve-wracking, it is necessary, and we hope we can help.

Count on Magic SweepThe Magic Sweep chimney cleaning process

Once you schedule your chimney sweep, we’ll provide you with a window of time in which our technician will show up for the service. Our certified chimney sweeps will arrive on time and in a company vehicle that is clearly marked with the Magic Sweep name. We strive to schedule at the most convenient time for you and provide expert and professional services every time. We’ll keep your home clean, and keep you aware of the process every step of the way.

What to Expect in a Chimney Sweep

Before your chimney sweep, it’s necessary to stop the use of the fireplace or appliance 24 hours before the appointment. This keeps our chimney sweeps safe and allows for complete services. We will start the appointment by using drop cloths and tarps to protect the floors and nearby furniture. We’ll also cover the inside of the fireplace and use an industrial HEPA filtered vacuum unit to contain all the soot and dust that we’ll stir up during cleaning.

The job isn’t finished until we scrape the firebox with tools and brushes and clean the inside spaces with poles, brushes, and scrapers. These tools and our technique allows for cleaning away the soot and creosote, without damaging the flue or masonry.

What to Expect in a Chimney Inspection

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends annual chimney inspections, and this is also required by most home insurance policies. Before your inspection, you can expect the same type of prep as the chimney sweep, as most chimney inspections include a sweep (and most sweeps include a level 1 inspection). The main difference in the actual process is that we will spend more time assessing the chimney, possibly even opening basement or attic doors in order to visually see the chimney. We will also use a video surveillance system to gain access to the most out-of-site portions of the system. If you’re interested to learn about the different levels of inspections and what they include, check out the descriptions on CSIA’s website.

What to Expect for Repairs

When we recommend repairs, you can expect prompt action. We do not leave damage unrepaired and will work with our customers to get the work done to prevent further damage and safety risks. When you schedule a repair with us, you can expect all of our work to be within federal and municipal safety codes. We use the best and most dependable products and most up-to-date techniques. When you choose a company that stays on top of continued education and industry advancements, you can expect the best service.

Count on Magic Sweep for all your routine chimney services and repairs, and you will be safe and warm this winter and year round. Save money, prevent damage, expect the best, choose Magic Sweep.

Call us at 757-523-2400 or request an appointment online.

Wood, Pellet, and Gas Stoves

Now is the time to think about heating your home with fire. Fall is nearly past, and you’ve undoubtedly seen your utility bill go up as you’ve been heating your home. Here in and around Chesapeake, we’ve seen cool weather sooner than usual, and homeowners are scratching their heads at all the options available. We don’t like to see our friends and neighbors running thermostats low to save money, and we don’t like to see unsafe appliance installations. Let us install a beautiful and efficient stove that will help heat your home, will keep working for you for years to come, and will bring new life into your home.

The Benefits of Stovesstove

We are not talking about kitchen stoves. No, we’re talking about heat machines installed right into your living space. A quality stove, regardless of fuel type, will generate enough heat for zone heating, supplemental heat during a power outage, or may even become your new primary heating source.
We can install a stove anywhere that a flue can be piped up. Using refractory materials that are stylish and compliment your stove design and home interior, we can even install in a corner safely. No matter the size of your space, we can find a product that fits, and a product that works.
There are a variety of products that we sell, install, and service. When you choose a stove, you can choose any size, any location, and any style. Many new homes look great with a sleek and contemporary model, while others may opt for a rustic and traditional look.
Fuel Type
At Magic Sweep, we sell wood, pellet, and gas stoves. Each has their own benefits and uses, and many homeowners have their preferences. Not sure what you want? Let the professionals help you out!

Gas Stoves

Easily the most convenient option for stoves and all other fire appliances is gas. Gas burns cleanly, keeps your home clean (with no ash, very little smoke and soot, and no creosote), is eco-friendly, and low maintenance. Many gas appliances have a push-button or easy light, precise temperature control, and immediate off features, and none of the issues a gas fireplace will give you. This means you only use the fuel you need to get the warmth you need with no damage to your home. Many believe gas units are safer than others. With new advances in technology and production, all fuel types can benefit from the same safety features.

Pellet Stoves

Pellets are the second-runner-up for efficiency. Since pellets are manufactured from wood byproducts, they’re eco-friendly and burn cleanly. They also allow for burning of a variety of other biofuels, including 100% corn, sunflower seeds, and wheat. This allows you to choose what is best for your area and then enjoy the fire! Pellet stoves feature a hopper that feeds the fire consistently for a steady temperature and flame. Most models also have a push-button ignition as well.

Wood Stoves

Still, a very popular option is the wood stove–especially for homeowners with land and forest to cut from. It offers high heat and unrivaled ambiance. The only drawback to wood stoves is that you can ONLY burn properly seasoned firewood in a wood stove. Do not attempt to burn trash, clothes, or alternative fuels in your unit.

Contact a fire expert at Magic Sweep today to find your new stove today!

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!