The chimney system is made up of many important parts, including some that were designed and built decades ago, affecting their performance today. The smoke chamber is one of these parts. It’s the gateway to the chimney and the first place the smoke goes to enter the chimney and escape the house. This seemingly insignificant space above the firebox can help the chimney function properly or actually prevent it.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has specific recommendations to keep the smoke chamber working properly:
A smoke chamber should not be taller than the fireplace opening width.
A smoke chamber should not be deeper than the fireplace opening.
Smoke chamber walls should not incline more than 45 degrees from vertical.
The walls of the smoke chamber should be smooth to help reduce turbulence that can upset air flow. The flue should start directly at the top of the smoke chamber and should be free of radical offsets or bends.
If you have an older home or your fireplace has been renovated, your smoke chamber may not meet these recommendations. Don’t panic though, It may seem like a complicated fix, but a certified chimney sweep can repair a smoke chamber fairly easily through a method known as parging.
What is Parging?
Parging is a process of applying a specialized refractory mortar to the walls of the smoke chamber. This process leaves smooth-surfaced walls that assist in natural and efficient air flow. A chimney sweep can use parging to redefine the dimensions of your chimney’s smoke chamber as well. He might do this if the dimensions don’t meet the above recommendations. Parging is also used to repair cracks and gaps in the smoke chamber. The mortar seals all the cracks and gaps protecting the home against smoke and carbon monoxide intrusion. All of the benefits of parging has led most building codes to require smoke chamber walls to be parged.
The Important of Hiring a Certified Chimney Sweep.
When installing a new appliance, insert, or having your fireplace rebuilt you should always hire a certified chimney sweep. Don’t leave your fireplace and chimney in the hands of a handyman or even a general contractor. General contractors are very experienced with all aspects of construction, but certified chimney sweeps undergo extensive classroom and field training, re-certifying every three years because of the constantly changing industry. Each CSIA chimney sweep is trained and experienced and will make sure your smoke chamber is appropriately sized for your fireplace and in good shape at every annual chimney inspection. This is because your safety and comfort is our top priority.
To schedule a smoke chamber assessment or to find out more about chimney safety, parging, and more, call Brickliners at 802-872-0123. Additionally, appointments can be scheduled online for your convenience.