Smoke Chamber Repairs: Keep Smoke Out of Your Home & Enjoy a Safer Fire

Just above your firebox is your smoke chamber, which is an inverted funnel that takes all of that heat, smoke, moisture, and corrosive gas produced by the fire in your firebox, and funnels it up into the chimney flue so it can escape. The smoke chamber is generally the “weak link” of any fireplace system, and many times, they’re not built thick enough, they’re built incorrectly, or they lack proper clearance to combustibles.

Smoke Chamber Repair – Before & After

How Do Smoke Chambers Get Damaged?

Like your firebox, your smoke chamber is exposed to some pretty high temperatures and some pretty corrosive byproducts of combustion, which can lead to damage, cracks, holes, and a rough surface. Not only can this type of damage prevent the smoke chamber from safely containing the heat and byproducts and keeping them away from nearby combustibles like framing and walls, but it can also prevent it from efficiently and effectively funneling those byproducts up into the flue.

As a result, you may have smoke billowing back into your living space or be exposed to dangerous gases like carbon monoxide. In other words, a damaged smoke chamber can make for a very unsafe and unpleasant fireside experience.

But it’s not just damage from heat, byproducts, and age that can lead to issues with your smoke chamber. For decades, smoke chambers were built in a corbeled fashion, each section of the smoke chamber stepping inwards, one brick on top of the other, like a staircase. Modern building codes and fire safety organizations mandate that these corbeled smoke chambers be parged smooth, because the corbeled brick provides a rough path that slows the removal of dangerous gases and smoke.

Another common problem we see here in the Philadelphia area is that smoke chambers are incorrectly sized. The height of the smoke chamber should not be greater than the width of the firebox, but this is commonly the case.

Rest assured, whether your smoke chamber is starting to develop cracks and gaps or it was built incorrectly or in a corbeled fashion, we can repair and restore your smoke chamber for a safer, more efficient fireside experience.

Parging mixture with trowel and mans hand mixing.

What Is Smoke Chamber Parging?

Parging a smoke chamber refers to the process of smoothing out your smoke chamber walls. This consists of applying a layer of heat-resistant mortar or refractory material to the inside surface, ensuring any corbeling, cracks, or crevices are completely filled in.

Smoke chamber parging should be done by experienced chimney professionals who know how to properly handle and apply refractory materials. Here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service, we parge smoke chambers smooth using ChamberCoat, a UL listed smoke chamber restoration product from ChimneySaver. This product is designed to meet and exceed all national and building codes for smoke chamber repairs and:

  • resists temperatures up to 2550 degrees F
  • insulates smoke chambers to prevent heat transfer
  • smooths jagged surfaces and corbeled smoke chambers
  • reshapes smoke chambers that were built incorrectly

Ready to get started? We’re here for you. Call or book online with us today.

How Is Parging a Smoke Chamber Beneficial?

Parging the smoke chamber serves several important purposes:

  • Better Smoke Flow: A smoothly parged smoke chamber helps direct the flow of smoke and gases up the chimney more efficiently – rather than bounce around on corbeled walls. This can reduce the likelihood of smoke spillage into the room and ensure that the byproducts of combustion are safely and effectively removed from the firebox.
  • Improved Safety: Parging can enhance the safety of the fireplace by reducing the risk of creosote buildup – a highly flammable substance that can accumulate on the interior surfaces of the chimney. A smooth, well-parged smoke chamber helps prevent creosote from adhering to irregular surfaces.
  • Heightened Durability: Parging adds an extra layer of protection to the interior of the smoke chamber, which can help extend the life of the chimney and fireplace. The heat-resistant mortar or refractory material can withstand the high temperatures generated by the fire. And because buildup is less likely, you should experience as much deterioration.
  • Proper Code Compliance: Parging the smoke chamber may be required to comply with building codes and regulations in your area. These codes often have specific requirements for the construction and maintenance of fireplaces and chimneys to ensure safety and efficiency.

Can I Parge My Smoke Chamber Myself, or Should I Hire a Professional?

Parging the smoke chamber is a challenging and specialized task that requires knowledge of refractory materials, masonry, and fireplace construction. Because of this we strongly advise against attempting this service yourself. Any costs you may save on labor are simply bound to come back at you in necessary repairs that result of a poorly-completed job.

Here are some issues that can result of a DIY smoke chamber parging attempt:

  • Poor Results: Parging the smoke chamber requires skill in working with heat-resistant mortars and the ability to create a smooth, even surface. If this isn’t accomplished, your system won’t work as efficiently, and you’re bound to face damages soon down the line.
  • Personal Injury: Working with high-temperature materials and specialized tools can be dangerous, and safety is paramount. Professionals have the necessary equipment and expertise to ensure the safety of the project. You may also breath in harmful chimney toxins during the process.
  • Failure to Meet Codes/Regulations: Some areas actually require that smoke chamber parging work be done by a licensed professional to ensure compliance with safety standards. And if you DIY and things aren’t how they’re supposed to be at the end of it all? Well, that’s a lot of work wasted.
  • Time Waste: While hiring a professional may come at a cost, it can save you time and ensure the job is done correctly. DIY projects can save money, but they may lead to costly mistakes if not executed properly.
  • Cost of Tools & Materials: Consider whether you have access to the right tools and materials needed for the job. Professionals often have specialized equipment for this type of work, much of which is costly to obtain on your own.

Does Parging the Smoke Chamber Affect the Efficiency of the Fireplace or Chimney?

Yes – and in a good way!
Parging your smoke chamber is known to improve the flow of smoke, reduce creosote buildup levels, and enhance the overall safety of your fireplace and chimney system. Because the smoke isn’t gathering in cracks or crevices throughout the smoke chamber, it stands no chance of bouncing back and circling back into your living space. In addition, this ensures it can’t linger and encourage buildup or deterioration in these areas.

Schedule Your Inspection & Smoke Chamber Repair Today

Is it time to have your smoke chamber repaired or parged smooth? Call Lou Curley’s Chimney Service at 610-626-2439 to schedule an inspection with one of our CSIA-, NFI-, and F.I.R.E.-certified chimney pros. We’ll carefully inspect your smoke chamber and let you know what repairs we recommend. Call or fill out our online appointment request form today!

 

If our chimney and fireplace repairs technicians discover you need a damper replaced, don’t worry…we can install the best damper for your situation with no stress to you.