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Smoke Chamber Repair

Most homeowners understand that regular chimney maintenance such as inspections and cleanings are an important part of keeping your fireplace system running safely and efficiently. What many do not know, however, is that the smoke chamber in your older fireplace could be creating a hidden safety hazard.

Safety advancements in the fireplace industry had led to changes in the building codes. Because of this, many homes no longer meet the modern safety standards; however, because of the location of the smoke chamber it can be extremely difficult for homeowners to assess it on their own.

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What is a smoke chamber?

The smoke chamber is located directly above the firebox at the base of the flue. It is designed to help funnel the gas, hot air, and smoke created when the fireplace is in use up and out of the chimney.

In many older homes, the now out of date technique of corbeling was used to create the smoke chamber. In corbeled smoke chambers, the masonry bricks are staggered like steps; while this building technique is structurally sound, it can create a number of long term problems.

One of the biggest problems seen in homes with corbeled smoke chambers is damage to the masonry joints. The jagged steps are held together by a number of masonry joints which can deteriorate after years of exposure to smoke, gas, and hot air produced in the firebox. Likewise, the byproducts of combustion can become easily trapped in the staggered steps, creating venting issues as well as increasing the risk of creosote buildup.

What is parging?

If your home has a corbeled smoke chamber, your chimney sweep may have recommended having the smoke chamber parged. However, many homeowners do not understand what parging is and why it is important.

Parging is the term for the process in which the corbeled sides of the smoke chamber are smoothed. Depending on the technique used, parging can be as simple as filling any cracks, holes, or gaps in the masonry or as complex as creating an entirely new and smooth surface. No matter what type of restoration is used, the end result yields a smooth surface that helps direct gas, hot air, and smoke up and into the flue.

Cast in place restoration helps create a seamless, smooth surface that completely eliminates any corbeled stepping. This technique is ideal for homes with masonry damage that needs additional reinforcement. Spray on restoration, on the other hand, is a quicker process in which a sealant is sprayed onto the walls of the smoke chamber to fill gaps and holes and insulate the smoke chamber. No matter which technique your chimney sweep recommends, the parging process will improve the safety and efficiency of your fireplace system.

Because corbeled smoke chambers can create serious problems over time, the National Fire Protection Association recommends that all homes with older fireplaces have their smoke chambers parged. Below are some additional reasons to consider having your smoke chamber parged.

  • Improve fireplace efficiency and venting
  • Extend the life of your fireplace system
  • Reduce the amount of creosote buildup
  • Lower the risk of accidental chimney fire
  • Strengthen masonry joints
  • Reinforce the chimney structure

If your fireplace doesn’t meet current safety standards, contact Guaranteed Chimney Service today to learn more about smoke chamber repairs.

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