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Magic Sweep Blog

Creosote and Your Chimney

Your chimney and fireplace system has been working to heat your home all winter long. This has been a particularly long winter, and you’ve likely burned more wood than usual. The slow-to-start spring also causes homeowners to continue using the fireplace even when temperatures become milder, sometimes closing the system out for the off-season before having it properly cleaned and inspected.

It’s important to clean up the creosote and soot from inside the fireplace and chimney system so that you aren’t bothered by unwelcome odors this summer, and your system will be ready to use this fall. Creosote and Your Chimney


Creosote is a substance that is produced when organic materials are burned. When wood is burned, for instance, creosote is produced and deposited into the chimney as it rises with the smoke. Properly seasoned firewood produces creosote, but green or wet wood burns incompletely, resulting in more wood being burned and more creosote being produced when it is burned. Creosote is made up mostly of tar, which makes it a sticky, flammable material. This material builds up easily inside the flue and is extremely dangerous when not removed regularly.

Glazed Creosote

If the creosote isn’t removed on a regular basis through a professional chimney sweep, it can quickly become a buildup that obstructs airflow through the chimney. As the air slows in the chimney, more creosote will be deposited inside the flue. These buildups eventually turn into glazed creosote. Glazed creosote is the term used to describe creosote that has been heated over and over again, evaporating the water and leaving a condensed mass of fuel. Glazed creosote is a solid mass with a glassy appearance that is difficult to remove.

Creosote Removal

Your chimney should be cleaned on a regular basis to avoid a drop in efficiency and safety. The chimney works perfectly when air flows properly from the fireplace to the flue opening. As creosote and soot are deposited in the chimney interior, airflow is no longer at its best. The drop in efficiency leads to more creosote buildup. In order to stop the cycle, your chimney system should be cleaned by a professional on a regular basis. A standard chimney sweep will remove all the soot, creosote, and debris that affects your chimney system. Once the creosote reaches level three or glazed buildup, it is more difficult to remove. Instead of using brushes and vacuums to clean the chimney, a chemical is first applied to the glazed creosote. As it’s absorbed, the creosote flakes away and can be brushed and vacuumed out of the system.

When it comes to creosote, you can’t stop it completely, but you can prevent creosote from making your system less efficient, and even dangerous. In order to prevent excessive creosote from affecting your system, make sure your firewood is properly seasoned, never burn trash or clothes in your fireplace, and make sure you use your system properly. Allowing your fire to smolder or lighting a fire in a cold chimney increases the amount of creosote produced by your fire.

In addition to creosote removal, your chimney professionals can also complete routine chimney inspections. If your chimney hasn’t been inspected in the last twelve months, it’s time to call the professionals. Call Magic Sweep to schedule services 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.

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.

Chimney Liner Repair

The Key to Chimney Performance: The Liner

Your chimney needs a liner in order for the system to run safely and efficiently. The liner has a few different jobs that are important to keep the chimney working for you.

  1. The chimney liner protects the home from heat transfer from the chimney. Heat transfers to materials that support the home. This heat can weaken these materials and cause a fire hazard over a period of time.
  2. The chimney liner protects the masonry from corrosive byproducts that can damage the masonry if left uncleaned. Soot and creosote becomes especially detrimental to the chimney’s masonry if allowed to mingle with moisture. Moisture can result due to a chimney leak or humid weather.
  3. The chimney liner keeps hazardous gases and chemicals from leaving the chimney and entering the home. Hazardous gases affect the air quality and health of the family. The chimney’s masonry is porous in order to allow gas to escape and assist with the efficiency of the chimney. The liner prevents the gases from escaping into the house.

Should You Repair or Replace Your Liner?

It might be that you don’t need a completely new liner, but just a repair. Many old homes may still have a damaged clay tile liner. The stainless steel liner is rated for use with all fuel types, and built to last. The industry now has a repair option that offers the same result as a stainless steel liner and Magic Sweep specializes in this type of liner repair.

Introducing HeatShield®

Industry professionals have formulated a special “Cerfractory®” sealant that combines ceramic and refractory materials. This is used to completely restore a damaged or outdated clay liner. This system eliminates the dangers caused by gaps, cracks, and spalling in your chimney. HeatShield’s® Cerfractory® technology is proven to withstand moisture, corrosive, flue gases, and temperatures over 2900°F. It surpasses both National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) and International Residential Code (IRC) which require only a “Medium-Duty” refractory mortar for use in fireplaces and chimneys.

Hiring a HeatShield® Expert to Repair Your Liner

Independent HeatShield® Installers are factory trained, and experienced with materials and specially designed tools. The technician will first apply the sealant. Then the technician uses special video cameras to verify repairs were completed properly and that the chimney will be able to return to full function.

In addition to all the benefits that HeatShield® offers, it is an “eco friendly” product. Because it is made from recycled and naturally occurring materials, so it saves on resources as well as time and money. If that is not enough to convince you to choose HeatShield® for your liner repair, then remember the 20-year material warranty.

If you’re not sure whether your chimney needs a complete replacement or rebuild, you can talk to a chimney expert today about your chimney liner repairs. Call Magic Sweep at 757-828-0404 or request an appointment online.

Get Your Chimney Swept Before Winter Hits

Winter is knocking at our door. Temperatures are dropping more and more each evening. So, you can be sure you’ll need to light up your fireplace pretty soon! It’s important to make sure your chimney is in working order before burning season. This will avoid extra costs and headaches. Preventative measures, like chimney sweeps, keep your chimney working efficiently and safely for your family and your home.

Get Your Chimney Swept Before Winter Hits - Chesapeake VA - Magic SweepThe Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends regular chimney sweeps and annual chimney inspections for optimum use and safety. It’s best to have your chimney swept before the season begins. This is to be sure that you don’t have any dangerous debris or creosote in your chimney flue. When your flue has creosote buildup it can become a fire hazard, and not only because glazed creosote is highly flammable. Also, because roughness on the walls make sit easier for soot and creosote to settle there.

What to Expect

When you choose a Magic Sweep chimney sweep, you can count on a professional experience every time. Our technicians are CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps® (CCS) and are experts at chimney services. All chimneys, all sizes, shapes, and fuel types.

Magic Sweep first puts down drop cloths to protect your floors. Afterwards, we cover the work space with a state-of-the-art HEPA filtered vacuum system. This is in order to keep the soot and dust from escaping into your home. Our technicians use specialized tools and brushes to clean the walls of the firebox. This is the space in which the fire burns, and then we move onto the flue. In order to access the flue and clean it thoroughly, we reach into the flue with poles, brushes, and scrapers from the room. All of the debris falls into the bottom of the chimney and is removed during the final vacuum cleaning.

Our expert chimney professionals leave your home just as we found it, except your chimney will be clean!

You’ll be Glad you Scheduled Your Chimney Sweep Now

When you schedule a chimney sweep with a Magic Sweep,  you can trust that the job is done right. Our technicians clean the chimney top to bottom. We are also happy to offer expert advice, making us available to answer questions or concerns you might have regarding your chimney system.

If you’d like to experience the Magic Sweep magic, you can contact an expert chimney technician now. Simply call 757-828-0404 or request an appointment online. You won’t be disappointed!