If you are a homeowner with a chimney and fireplace, there are likely parts of your chimney system that you’ve never heard of. Most homeowners only deal with the fireplace itself, the doors, the screen, firewood, and the damper. You seldom hear about the smoke chamber, the firebox, or the liner. Since this is where the smoke goes, these are some of the most important parts!
Your entire chimney system must be smooth and conducive for proper airflow. If the air slows down, there will be excess soot and creosote in the system, a higher risk for fire, and more damage to the system. When the smoke chamber walls become damaged, a professional must complete a repair called parging to restore it to proper function.
The Smoke Chamber
The smoke chamber is the space above the firebox and below the flue opening where gas and particles rise as the wood burns and mix together before rising out of the flue. The smoke chamber is specially designed for this purpose and must be constructed with specific characteristics.
For instance, this space is shaped like an inverted funnel to direct air up into the flue. It also features a wall that is straight up, and one that is at an angle and a shelf called a “smoke shelf” which prevents the smoke from falling back into the fireplace. The smoke chamber walls should be parged smooth so that air rises efficiently up the chimney.
Smoke Chamber Parge
When the wall is slanted toward the flue opening, the bricks are stepped in order to achieve the necessary slant. These bricks are then parged in a coating of mortar which creates a smooth surface. Most building codes require smoke chambers to be parged. Not only does the parging create optimum airflow through the system, but it also provides insulation to the system, protecting the bricks from the high temperatures in the smoke chamber.
The most ideal time to parge the smoke chamber is during construction, but this is not always done or may be done incorrectly. For the safest and most efficient chimney system, you should have annual inspections and address any repairs.
At Anderson’s Chimney and Masonry Services, we offer smoke chamber parging year round because we want to keep our customers safe. Scheduling your inspection or repair with a professional now will ensure your system is ready for fall. Our masons are experienced and trained in parging. We can bring your system back to code compliance, resize too-large chambers, and repair those damages. If you have questions about your smoke chamber, you can talk to our professionals by calling us at 717-500-8522 today!