Most homeowners love their fireplace but aren’t aware of how complex its construction (and maintenance) can be. Chimneys are made up of seven distinct parts: chimney flue, chimney liner, chimney cap, chimney flashing, chimney crown, damper, and the chimney smoke chamber. Today, we’ll be focused on fixing the last item on the list—the chimney smoke chamber—with a repair known as “parging.” But first, it’s important to know what a smoke chamber is.
What is a chimney smoke chamber?
A chimney smoke chamber is the section of your chimney just below the flue which allows smoke and various gases to mix and rise through the flue in a controlled manner. As Boston’s Best Chimney says, “The purpose of the smoke chamber is to compress the byproducts of combustion into a smaller space (the flue inside the chimney) without causing back draft.” The smoke chamber is an essential part to any chimney’s construction and requires sloping walls at a specific ratio to the firebox in order to control the direction and flow of smoke. If the smoke chamber is poorly constructed or damage, a homeowner can expect to have smoke or carbon monoxide exit the opening of the fire box and into the house.
Fixing your smoke chamber with parging
Due to the location of the smoke chamber, it’s often susceptible to damage. While there are many ways a smoke chamber can get chipped, cracked, or pierced, our focus today is how to use parging to repair the problem. Parging uses a thin layer of insulating refractory mortar that serves to smooth out the sloped walls of the fire chamber and fix any damaged areas. It can also serve to seal and air leaks that may have developed over the years. Much like you would use spackle to repair holes and cracks in your drywall, refractory mortar ensures that your chimney chamber walls are functioning the way they should.
Is it really necessary though?
Chimney Saver Solutions offers three benefits to parging your smoke chamber:
1) Improved safety of the chimney
2) Increased structural integrity of the smoke chamber area
3) Improved draft and fireplace performance, which lowers the amount of creosote that builds up within the chimney system
However, at the end of the day, here is why parging is really necessary: to ensure that you and your family are protected from consuming unhealthy gases like smoke or carbon monoxide, both of which can be incredibly harmful, as well as keeping your home safe from easily avoidable house fires.
Though some people attempt to parge their smoke chambers themselves, this really is a job for trained masonry experts. Ensuring that the refractory mortar is correctly mixed and appropriately coated are just a few of the reasons why. However, the real benefit of working with a professional is that they’re able to see the extent of your smoke chamber’s damage and assess/recommend the repairs needed.
If you’re located in Nashville, contact Chimney & Masonry Outfitters today to schedule your appointment and get your chimney smoke chamber examined by one of our trained professionals.