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Magic Sweep Blog

About Our Associations and Awards

When it comes to buying in America, you have limitless information at your fingertips. Consumers are more prepared and informed than ever when considering products and services. There are online reviews to peruse, customer testimonials, checks for credentials, and more. When our customers are looking for a surgeon to remove their appendix, we hope they choose one who has great reviews, appropriate training, and valid licensure. The same care should be taken to choose the professional who will be servicing your fireplace and chimney—easily one of the most dangerous things in your home when not cared for or installed correctly. When you’re scheduling services with a chimney professional, choose the best.

Certified Chimney Sweeps at Magic Sweep

When you schedule chimney services with Magic Sweep, you can count on a technician with experience, training in the field and the classroom, and valid certifications with verifiable credentials. As CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps, we are able to offer our customers thorough reports that will be recognized and useful to your real estate attorney, REALTOR, code department, homeowner’s insurance, and more. In order to maintain our certification with CSIA, we have to recertify through testing or continuing education courses every three years. This keeps us ahead of a fast-changing industry and helps us offer the best and newest technologies and tools to our customers.

Professional Affiliations that Matter

Aside from our various certifications and education (both individually and collectively), we also hold memberships in the National Chimney Sweep Guild, Virginia Association of Chimney and Hearth Professionals, National Air Duct Cleaners Association, Qualified Gas Contractors, and the National Fire Protection Association. These memberships and affiliations help us to further our mission to bring down the frequency of residential fires, spread awareness about chimney safety, and to network with other professionals in our industry doing the same.

Endorsed by the Better Business Bureau

Magic Sweep is accredited by the Better Business Bureau, with zero customer complaints, an A+ rating, and more than 42 years of verified business. You can also find Magic Sweep on Angie’s List, from which we’ve earned the Super Service Award in 2011, 2012, and 2017.

When it comes to your chimney system, you need to choose the best professionals, best products, and important services that keep your system working properly and safely. When you choose Magic Sweep, you are choosing from your own friends and neighbors. Our best and most satisfying membership is that of living in our own service area.

If you live in the Tidewater area, you’ve likely seen us around, shopping, taking in sporting events, dropping our kids off at school, and attending church. Our number one priority for our customers, friends, and neighbors in the Tidewater area is safety. That is why we hold certifications and memberships that help us do this job properly.

We can clean your dryer vents, repair your chimney, complete routine maintenance that keeps your home running safely and smoothly, and we can do it all year-round. Just give us a call at 757-523-2400 or request an appointment online.

How HeatShield Works

Does your chimney liner need some work? A chimney with a damaged or missing liner will not work properly and will be unsafe. This is because the liner is a necessary barrier that offers protection to the masonry, to the home, and to the fire. It’s like skin, covering a large space and doing an important job. The liner keeps the heat, gas, and corrosive byproducts of the fire in the chimney, prevents heat from moving through the masonry and damaging important building components of the home, and protects the masonry from corrosive chemicals from the fire. When the liner becomes worn and damaged over time and use, it should be repaired quickly and appropriate for the type of fire you use.

Major and Minor Liner Repairs
Whether your liner needs minor or major repairs, we can fix it quickly using HeatShield. This product is appropriate for joint repair, resurfacing, and complete relining. It is as durable and long-lasting as a stainless steel liner, appropriate for all fuel types, and cheaper. HeatShield combines the strength of a high fired ceramic with the heat resistance of high-temperature refractory cement, to create HeatShield Cerfractory technology. This product comes in powder form, so a HeatShield installer can mix and use it on site, cutting down on waste and cost.

HeatShield Installation
When you hire Magic Sweep for your HeatShield installation, we’ll begin by installing a custom foam applicator blade in your flue, attached to a winch system to complete the necessary repair. Following installation, the work is checked with a video recording system.

Joint Repair – For joint repairs and gaps, we place the foam applicator blade just below the affected portion of the flue and fill it with the HeatShield product. Using the winch, the applicator is pulled upward and deposits the product into the spaces, smoothing it over the flue liner.

Resurfacing – When the damage is more extensive, the liner will need a complete resurfacing. The foam applicator blade is placed at the bottom of the flue, and the product is moved upward, applying the product to the entire surface. This is after a “tie coat” is applied first to clean and prime the existing surface.

CeCure Sleeve Relining – When the entire flue needs to be relined, we use the CeCure Sleeve, a thin profile, ceramic insulation, reinforced with stainless steel fabric. This sleeve is sandwiched between two coats of HeatShield which is completely pressed into the flue using the foam applicator blade. Once completely relined, the flue is appropriate for all fuel types and should last 80+ years.

When your liner needs attention, let Magic Sweep come to the rescue with HeatShield. Call us at 757-523-2400.

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.

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.

Your Chimney’s Parts and What They Do

The first thing you need to understand when dealing with your chimney system is that you could have one of two types of systems and should know which one you have. This goes beyond wood burning or gas. You will need to discover whether your system is a masonry fireplace and chimney system or a factory built fireplace and chimney system.  While you might not think this important, it is.

Knowing what type of system you have, as well as the life expectancy and parts that wear out over time,  are all things that make you a better homeowner. This will also allow you to know what to expect over time.  So while each share parts, let’s look at one at a time and see how they are alike and more importantly, where the differences lie.

Masonry Fireplaces are considered the workhorses in the hearth industry as they are built to last a long time and can add great value to your home as well as enjoyment if properly taken care of. One of the first things to know about masonry systems is their weight. They can weigh between 6 and 7 tons! This is why you need to watch the foundation to make sure it is not cracking or sinking under this massive amount of weight distributed in a very small area.

Masonry Chimney - Chesapeake VA - Magic Sweep

Masonry Chimney – Chesapeake VA – Magic Sweep

You will need to watch the hearth area at the base of the fireplace as well as any cracks in the brick or stone in the firebox or on the fireplace facing. Outside you will want to take a look at the brick and surface of the stone to see if there are any signs of stress. This can be cracks or leaning of any kind. All of these areas can be a sign that the weight of the unit may be getting the better of the situation and needs to be addressed.

The hearth area is the open area in front of the firebox that will need to be free of any combustibles so there is nothing that catch on fire from a flying spark or ember and extends as the base of the firebox. Sometimes there is an ash dump that is also connected to an area in a basement or to the outside where the ash can be easily cleaned out.

When a fire is burning in the firebox, smoke has to be able to get to the outside. To do this there is a series of parts that allow this to happen. The first is a throat damper, which is still in many of these systems. If the damper remains closed, smoke will back fill into your home and you will have a big problem. Making sure the damper is opened and working properly before a fire is ever lit is extremely important.

Once the smoke passes through the damper is sits in the smoke chamber as the draft pulls it up the flue and out into the open atmosphere. There is also something called a smoke shelf that keeps any debris from falling back down into your firebox. This is one place creosote is often found and is removed during sweeping.

Another part that is not always on a masonry system is a chimney cap. The cap is attached to the top of the flue and acts as a spark arrest-or for combustibles leaving the system. It also stops water and animals from entering the system when not in use. Many chimney professionals recommend adding this part for obvious reasons.

The mortar crown finishes off the masonry chimney system and seals off the top of the chimney. Because of the elements this part of the system is exposed to it is one of the areas that will most likely need to be repaired or replaced in time. Talk to your professional chimney services guy about sealing this with some of the newer materials that have come on the market to protect it even better over a longer period of time.

The last “part” would be the brick or stone the system is built with. These materials are porous and can erode over time and exposure. There are many so called fixes that simply do not work due to lack of permeability, which is allowing air to move through the material even though water is blocked. Masonry materials must be able to breathe!

Having a well-built masonry fireplace is a great item to have in a home but unlike engineered products like factory built systems, having a professional to build these systems is a must. Masonry fireplaces will not work well if it is not built to a standard that chimney specialists work with every day. Get referrals if you are having one of these built or repaired.

Factory-Built Fireplaces are often referred to as prefabricated fireplaces and are engineered products much like any other appliance in your home. And just like those appliances, there is a life expectancy that must be taken into consideration when dealing with one of these units. They are a complete system from top to bottom and are not interchangeable from system to system.

These units come with a hearth much like a masonry system as well as a firebox. However, the firebox is made up of panels on each side and not firebrick like in a masonry fireplace. Replacing these panels is an option. However, there are times units stop being manufactured and the panels are really hard to find. Dealing with a reputable chimney company can help as they have resources with other sweeps to find panels that are no longer being made.  This is also when many people decide it’s time to upgrade to a more efficient factory built unit and just get a new one.

These appliances will have a chimney or flue and have a fire stop to keep the smoke going up the chimney and out the top through the chimney cap. There are very specific instructions that come with installing one of these prefab units so please make sure you use someone that is experienced and certified to do so. There are clearances to combustibles to take into consideration as well as modern building codes for these units as they are not made to undertake the punishing heat you can get away with in a masonry chimney. There are set limits so make sure you have a clear understanding of what type of factory built unit you have and what type of fuel you should burn in it.

There is no doubt that having a fireplace is one of the most relaxing things you can have as a part of your home, it is also an appliance that will need to be maintained, repaired, cleaned and sometimes replaced. As long as you understand that, you should have a positive and wonderful experience with your masonry or factory built fireplace system.