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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.

What’s That Smell Coming from My Chimney?

During the hot and humid months of summer, your home could be invaded by unpleasant odors from the chimney through the fireplace. Even though your fireplace and chimney are probably the last things on your mind in the summer, certain things can be lurking inside the chimney that cause stinky smells. Magic Sweep can help you avoid these situations with a spring chimney sweeping and inspection, and we can also assist you if you do have bad smells coming out of your chimney. We would like to tell you about the most common sources of unpleasant chimney odors to help you determine what that smell could be.

Whats that smell coming from my chimney - Chesapeake VA - Magic Sweep


You have heard that the natural compound of creosote is extremely flammable. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) has even called creosote the biggest cause of chimney fires. Not only is creosote a dangerous fire hazard, but it also releases a strong, acrid odor, especially when the weather is hot and humid. If the unpleasant smell coming from your chimney smells like asphalt or bad barbecue, you most likely have a large amount of creosote accumulated on the inside of your chimney. When the CSIA-certified chimney sweeps from Magic Sweep clean your chimney, great care is taken to remove every bit of creosote from your chimney to reduce your risk of a chimney fire and to keep your chimney from releasing unpleasant odors.


If your chimney does not have a chimney cap professionally installed at its top, your chimney will have water and leaves sitting on the smoke shelf. The water not only damages the metal components of your chimney, including the damper and liner, but it also creates a musty odor that can invade your home through the fireplace. When leaves are mixed with water, it causes the leaves to decompose and give off a rotting odor. To prevent this problem, Magic Sweep can install a chimney cap on top of your chimney to keep water and leaves from getting inside.


Another risk you take without a chimney cap is birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other wild animals being able to easily get into your chimney. The droppings of these animals can cause quite a few stinky smells in your home, and, in the worst-case scenario, a bird or animal can become trapped inside the chimney and die. You can imagine the stench created by a dead animal in your chimney. Magic Sweep can keep birds and animals from ever getting into your chimney with a chimney cap that is equipped with mesh metal sides.

Keep unpleasant chimney odors out of your home this summer. Contact us at Magic Sweep to schedule an appointment for our professional chimney sweeping and inspection services today.

It’s That Time of Year for Smelly Chimneys

When the weather starts getting hotter, our staff at Magic Sweep knows to expect calls from our customers asking us why their chimneys and fireplaces smell so badly. Our years of experience in working with chimneys has taught us many things, including the fact that hot, humid weather can worsen and even create chimney odor problems. We are familiar with the causes of smelly chimneys, and we also know how to find exactly what is causing the unpleasant odor and how to correct it. If you are dealing with a stinky chimney this summer, you can trust our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps to make your fireplace and home smell fresh again. We would like to tell you more about the reasons behind smelly chimneys and what we can do to stop the bad odors from entering your home through the fireplace and chimney.

Time of Year for Smelly Chimneys - Chesapeake VA

How is air from the chimney getting into my home in the first place?

When people weatherize their homes by sealing windows, doors, and any other source of outside air flow, it can create negative air pressure inside the house, which will pull air from the chimney inside your home. No matter what the source of the bad smell in your chimney may be, that odor can come inside your living space as that chimney air flows into the house. Kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans and clothes dryers can also lead to negative air pressure. To solve this problem, you can simply crack a window, close your fireplace damper, install glass fireplace doors, or have a top-mounted damper installed at the top of your chimney. Our experienced chimney sweeps can help you find the best solution for your situation.

What are the causes of smelly chimneys?

  • Creosote: According to the CSIA, the strong, acrid smell of creosote deposits that have accumulated within your chimney gets much worse in the summer when the humidity is high and your air conditioning is being used. If you have noticed the unpleasant odor get worse after a heavy rain, you can be certain that creosote is the culprit behind that stinky smell. Magic Sweep can take care of creosote odors by sweeping your chimney to remove all of the creosote deposits from its walls. Removing the creosote can also prevent hazardous situations such as a chimney fire as this natural compound is extremely flammable.
  • Birds and animals: If you do not have a good chimney cap installed correctly on the top of your chimney, birds and animals can easily go inside to nest. When they leave the nest, birds and animals leave all the materials behind, and this debris can create bad smells inside your chimney. Sometimes a bird or an animal like a raccoon or a squirrel can get trapped inside your chimney and die. If this happens, you can be in for a horribly unpleasant odor. If you suspect birds or animals have gotten into your chimney, call Magic Sweep for our assistance. We can help you pick out the perfect chimney cap to keep this from occurring again and properly install the cap for you to prevent animal invasions and water leaks.

Need help with a smelly chimney this summer? Contact Magic Sweep to schedule a visit from our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps to get your home smelling great again.

Prepare Your Chimney for Winter Before the Fall Rush

Summer is almost over, and cooler temperatures are beginning to arrive, which means it is just about time to begin using your fireplace again. Many chimney and fire safety organizations including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend you schedule your annual chimney sweeping and inspection before you light your first flame in your fireplace in the fall. Professional, Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweep companies like Magic Sweep see their busiest time of year during the fall season, so it is important to beat this rush and go ahead and schedule your annual professional chimney cleaning and inspecting now to prevent waiting for weeks for an available appointment. We at Magic Sweep would like to share what we do to get your chimney prepared for winter.

Chimney Sweeping - Chesapeake VA - Magic Sweep

Chimney Sweeping

According to the NFPA, the cause of 28% of all home heating fires was neglecting to clean the chimney before the heating season. Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps know exactly what to look for when we are cleaning your chimney to prepare it for winter: large deposits of creosote buildup. Creosote, a compound that results naturally when burning wood, is highly flammable and is responsible for the majority of chimney fires in the United States. The chimney sweeps at Magic Sweep are experienced at removing all creosote deposits from the walls of your chimney and making it safe to use all winter without the possibility of a creosote-caused chimney fire.

Chimney Inspecting

Our main objective when Magic Sweep inspects your chimney is to be sure there is no damage that could cause using your fireplace to be unsafe. When we perform a pre-winter chimney inspection, we are looking for any essential repairs that should be done before you begin to regularly use your chimney. If there are loose bricks and chipped mortar on the exterior of your chimney, that is a sign of water penetration damage. If water has gone into the interior of your chimney, there can be damage done to the flue liner, which can be dangerous as cracks and holes in your liner allow toxic gases like carbon monoxide to easily enter your home. A pre-winter chimney inspection from Magic Sweep includes the following tasks:

  • examining your chimney cap and flashing to ensure they are properly fitted to prevent water leaks
  • checking the damper of your chimney to be sure it both opens and closes properly
  • ensuring you have at least an 18-inch clearance between your fireplace and anything combustible such as furniture or curtains
  • inspecting your chimney flue liner for cracks or other signs of deterioration
  • protecting your family’s safety by making sure you have some sort of screen installed in front of your fireplace
  • advising you on proper ash removal procedures.

If we discover any essential repairs, we will arrange a time as soon as possible to take care of these problems before the heating season begins. Need to schedule your annual chimney sweeping and inspection before winter arrives? Contact us today to arrange an appointment to get your chimney prepared for winter.

6 Questions for Your Chimney Sweep

Choosing the right company to handle all of your chimney and fireplace needs can be a tough task.  Knowing which questions to ask can and will certainly smooth out the process for you.

Being an informed homeowner makes the process of choosing a chimney sweep a much simpler task.

Being an informed homeowner makes the process of choosing a chimney sweep a much simpler task.