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Magic Sweep Blog

Spring Checklist for Your Chimney

Your chimney and fireplace kept you warm.  They've earned a thorough inspection and cleaning.

Your chimney and fireplace kept you warm this winter, and now they’ve earned a thorough inspection and cleaning.

After a very cold, long winter, your home is ready for a spring cleaning from top to bottom. While you are getting your to-do lists ready this season, do not forget your fireplace and chimney as they have worked hard heating your home all winter, and both are in need of a good cleaning. For proper maintenance of a safe chimney, the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends an annual chimney sweep and Level 1 chimney inspection. In fact, when you make your spring checklist for your chimney, that’s all you need to do: request an appointment with Magic Sweep for a chimney sweep that includes a Level 1 inspection.

What to Expect

Our certified technician will arrive at your house to do the chimney sweep and bring the Magic Sweep spring checklist for your chimney and perform the following tasks:

  • Perform a Level 1 inspection – A basic level of inspection, we look around the readily-accessible sections of your chimney as well as the exterior of your chimney. We will go to the roof to examine the chimney above the roof if access is provided and the conditions are safe. We will be making sure your chimney is sound and does not seem to have any structural damage. We will also examine to see if your chimney is free from blockages and excessive creosote deposits.
  • Protect the room and house – Using a high-powered, long-handled vacuum with a HEPA filter and drop cloths to cover your furniture, we work to contain the dust and debris that will occur during the sweeping process.
  • Scrape the firebox – With hand tools and brushes, the firebox, where the actual fireplace is, is scraped down and swept, then vacuumed.
  • Scrape the chimney – The firebox scraping process is continued up to the top of the chimney, using tools and brushes on poles. All of the soot and debris falls to the bottom. We remove the debris, clean the firebox, and vacuum all remaining soot and debris. We guarantee that we will leave your home as clean or cleaner than when we came in.

What Happens Next?

After your chimney sweep has been completed, we will talk with you about our findings in your Level 1 inspection. It is possible you may need a Level 2 inspection, which includes a video scan that allows us to look more closely inside your chimney. You may also need repairs if you have suffered structural damage. Magic Sweep is certified in all sorts of chimney repairs, and our technician will be happy to go over your options with you.

Get started on your spring cleaning, and take care of your spring checklist for your chimney by contacting Magic Sweep today to schedule your annual chimney sweeping and Level 1 inspection.

Zero In On Prevention

Keep A Focus On Family Fire Safety

At Magic Sweep, our goal is to help our clients enjoy their home heating appliances while minimizing fire hazards in every way we can.

Annual chimney inspections and regular chimney sweeping — as well as having any necessary repairs taken care of as soon as possible — go a long way toward keeping your chimney functional and efficient, and limiting the chances of a chimney fire.

Many homeowners don’t realize that clogged dryer vents can pose a big fire hazard, too, so having those vents cleaned routinely by experienced Magic Sweep technicians adds another layer of protection.

But beyond doing all that we can to help you and your family avoid a fire hazard, we also want our valued clients to feel armed and prepared to do everything they can do to increase their fire safety.

Regular and thorough maintenance is your biggest preventative measure when it comes to fire safety.

Regular and thorough maintenance is your biggest preventative measure when it comes to fire safety.

Smart Fireplace, Stove Or Insert Practices

As chimney sweeps, we talk a lot about creosote, and how dangerous and flammable it is when it builds up in your flue. So it logically follows that practices that encourage creosote build-up will increase the probability of a fire hazard.

You can minimize creosote build-up and limit the chances of a fire hazard overall with some smart burning practices.

– Always use seasoned (dry) wood. Green, moist wood results in a cooler fire, more smoke and more creosote. And never burn trash – some materials can give off toxic fumes, and others can create a fire hazard.

– Never use any kind of flammable liquid (gasoline, lighter fluid or anything else) as a firestarter.

– Open your flue all the way when you light your fire, so that it doesn’t smolder.

– Don’t overfill your firebox — build a small fire that has the air and space to burn hotter and more completely.

– Make sure your fire is completely out before leaving it alone.

– When you’re cleaning out ash and coals, make sure to use a metal bucket, allow ample cooling time, and put ample distance between those materials and your home (at least 10 feet) when you dispose of them.

– Keep the area around the appliance clear of debris or any other flammable materials, including knick-knacks and holiday decorations.

– Make sure a properly sized and installed chimney cap is on your chimney! Chimney caps keep out nesting animals and debris that can block your flue and ignite.

– Have a spark screen installed to keep embers from sparking out of the firebox

– Make sure branches and twigs of nearby trees aren’t in the direct line of your flue opening.

Be Aware And Be Prepared, Too

Smoke alarms are a must in every home, on every floor and near every sleeping area. According to the National Safety Council, two thirds of deaths related to home fires happened in homes without functioning smoke alarms.

Carbon monoxide detectors are hugely important as well — since carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, and can be deadly, a working carbon monoxide detector could save your life in the event of a leak. It’s recommended that you check smoke and CO detectors monthly, and change batteries every year. If you have kids, make sure they know what the alarms sound like, and what they mean.

You should also make sure that you have a home escape route planned, that your entire family is aware of it, and that you’ve practiced getting out of the house from every floor.

If you have any questions about fire safety and your heating appliance, Magic Sweep is always here to help. Just give us a call!

What IS That Smell?

Is There a Strange Odor Coming from Your Chimney?

Having a chimney and fireplace is a great perk in any home, especially when the winter weather starts to make nights chilly. However, many families quickly stop enjoying their fireplaces when strange smells start coming from their chimneys. There are many different things that can cause chimney odors and knowing the cause is often the key to solving the problem. A certified sweep can help identify the cause during a cleaning and inspection.

Some odors coming from your fireplace are no cause for concern, but other indicate a serious issue. A certified sweep can help you figure out the difference.

Some odors coming from your fireplace are no cause for concern, but other indicate a serious issue. A certified sweep can help you figure out the difference.

The first thing every homeowner should keep in mind is that a bit of odor coming from the chimney is completely normal. When treated material, such as wood or coal, is burned in the fireplace, there is going to be a bit of a smell that lingers. However, if the smell is very heavy, accompanied by thick smoke or especially unpleasant, it may be the sign of a problem. Anyone who is unsure should have the issue checked into just to be on the safe side.

One very common cause of chimney odor is a family of animals setting up their home inside of the chimney. There are many species of bird that commonly live in chimneys, such as chimney swifts. However, there are also many small animals and rodents that have been known to set up camp in a chimney. The animals themselves could be the cause of the smell, or it might be their waste and nest debris.

Another common reason that families experience chimney odors is if there are leaves and other plant life rotting in their chimney. Plant material, combined with water from rain or snow, can create a very unpleasant odor that will smell like something dying or rotting. This problem, along with the issue of animal invaders, can be solved very simply. Just install a chimney cap to keep animals, leaves, and unwanted water out of the chimney and the fireplace.

Anyone who burns treated wood and coal in their fireplace will have a chemical combination known as creosote left behind. If the excess creosote is not cleaned on a regular basis, it will eventually cause an odor that spreads throughout the home. Not only does it smell bad, but creosote can cause a variety of different ailments for anyone who comes into contact with it. If creosote seems to be the problem, it should be addressed immediately, before the fireplace is used again.

In some cases, the fireplace smells bad simply because it is in need of a good, thorough cleaning. Over time, the accumulation of ash and other material will start to smell. This is why it is recommended that a professional chimney sweep service the chimney each year, either at the start or the end of the cold weather season. Homeowners may be tempted to clean their own chimneys, but this can be extremely dangerous as well as difficult to do properly for someone without the correct training.

Strange and unpleasant smells coming from the fireplace can quickly end the cozy atmosphere in front of the fireplace. However, in many cases, the solution is simple and just involves a quick addition to the chimney or a good cleaning. If it seems like the problem may be connected to a buildup of creosote, it should be addressed by a professional chimney sweep as quickly as possible. In fact, homeowners should never try to clean their chimneys on their own because it can be extremely dangerous.