Time to Have Your Chimney Smoke Chamber Parged?
If it’s been several years (or more) since your smoke chamber was last inspected, this summer is a good time to schedule this task. A thorough chimney inspection will tell you if parging is necessary to reduce the chances of a chimney fire and to help your fireplace draft more efficiently.
What is smoke chamber parging?
Your smoke chamber is the area directly above your fireplace damper. The chamber is designed specifically to channel smoke from the fireplace up into the flue and then out of your home.
Older smoke chambers were built with a process known as “corbelling,” which features corner sections and exposed masonry joints, both of which can collect creosote and
thereby hinder drafting.
Smoke chamber parging is done by professional chimney technicians to smooth out the corners inside the smoke chamber and cover masonry joints. This is accomplished in one of two ways:
- Applying a cast-in-place masonry compound over rough surfaces
- Spraying a coating over corbelled areas and other surfaces
Both process work well to smooth out your smoke chamber.
Dangers of a neglected smoke chamber
Whether or not corbelling was used in the construction of your smoke chamber, big problems can result from never scheduling proper parging and cleaning.
The two main concerns are fires started by ignited creosote and sluggish drafting.
Many chimney fires start in the smoke chamber, where excess creosote has been allowed to build up over the years. Creosote, a byproduct of wood combustion, is highly flammable and is the cause of most chimney fires in the U.S. each year.
When you have your smoke chamber parged, your chimney technician should also be able to remove creosote and soot and any other buildups from the surfaces. (During this time, your chimney flue also should be swept.)
Smoke chambers ideally should have smooth surfaces to allow smoke and combustion gases to move efficiently up into the flue. When the chamber is full of creosote and soot stacking up on surface corners and exposed masonry joints, drafting is going to be impaired.
Smoke backing up into your home is a problem. But worse is the carbon monoxide that smoke carries. Carbon monoxide is both odorless and invisible, but it can be potentially fatal to humans and animals when inhaled.
Smoke chamber inspections
Because it’s difficult for the average homeowner to see and evaluate the condition of a smoke chamber, it’s advised to hire a licensed chimney professional to perform annual inspections.
Chimney technicians use video imaging to allow them to get “up close and personal” with every area within a smoke chamber (and the entire flue, as well.) After an inspection, you’ll know the condition of your smoke chamber as well as the technician recommendations on maintenance, cleaning or repair work.
Why schedule chimney repairs in the summer
Smoke chamber parging along with all other chimney repair and cleaning work is best scheduled in the warmer months. These are times when crews usually aren’t as busy as they are just before the cold season in the fall.
It will be easier to fit the service into your schedule and have plenty of time after the initial inspection to make sure any needed work gets done before you start using your fireplace again.
Above & Beyond Chimney Service of Dedham, MA, provides full-service chimney work including smoke chamber parging, chimney repairs, chimney sweeping and chimney rebuilding. Start getting your chimney into safe, efficient shape this summer by calling (781) 383-0415.