Smoke Chamber Parging Services Keep Your Chimney in the Best Shape Possible – Book With Us
As with most household appliances, the chimney is made up of a lot of different parts, all of which need regular maintenance to ensure your system keeps functioning well and stays in good condition. Some of these are well-known by most (like the damper, chimney cap, or firebox), but others remain hidden inside the structure’s walls and tend to be forgotten about.
One of these that fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” category is the smoke chamber. Unfortunately, this can invite all kinds of issues when damages aren’t spotted promptly and addressed. But there’s good news for folks living in and near Hillsborough – the Highpoint team is here to help.
Where Is My Chimney’s Smoke Chamber?
Your chimney’s smoke chamber is located right above the firebox and right below the opening at the base of your chimney. It’s essentially a sloping chamber that funnels smoke and gases from the fireplace into the flue, where these fumes can then safely move outdoors (and not back into your home).
Although hidden away, it’s an important part of your home and chimney – and it should be inspected every year when you book your professional chimney inspection.
What is the purpose of the smoke chamber?
Imagine the smoke from your open firebox moving straight up in an attempt to get through the small opening of your chimney, with no passage in between to funnel it along. Chances are, it wouldn’t get too far. Sure, some smoke would escape up the flue, but the rest would bounce off the ceiling and walls of the firebox and end up in your living space – not good.
Since smoke and combustion byproducts can be detrimental to a person’s health – as well as damaging to your home’s furnishings – putting a stop to instances like these is a must. And this is where the smoke chamber comes into play.
The smoke chamber is shaped like an upside-down funnel, giving it the ability to safely funnel smoke and gases from the firebox into the flue and out of your home. These sloping walls also help in keeping creosote levels in check, ensuring it doesn’t have crevices or cracks to build up in. This makes your system less prone to damage and minimizes your risk of chimney fires significantly.
What is a smoke chamber made of?
In the past, smoke chambers were made from a series of bricks, designed to stair-step up to the base of the chimney. Unfortunately, this led to some issues. These steps left areas for smoke to linger, which then encouraged creosote buildup, and because of the corbeled design, smoke was more prone to bounce off the brick and reenter the firebox – rather than move up and out of it.
Nowadays, we know better, which is why sweeps parge this area smooth. This gives smoke a smooth and easy path up to the chimney, minimizing creosote and smoke back-up significantly.
Do smoke chambers need to be sealed?
Yes – your smoke chamber should be sealed up to prevent smoke and gases from leaking back into your living space. Sealing the smoke chamber involves applying a specially-mixed mortar designed to fill any gaps or cracks in the masonry and create a smooth surface.
What Is Smoke Chamber Parging?
Parging is the process of smoothing out the rough, corbeled, or damaged surface of your smoke chamber. A mortar sealant is applied to the walls of the area, ensuring smoke doesn’t get caught up, and that it has a clear pathway up and out. In the end, this should improve the efficiency and the safety of the entire system significantly, promoting better airflow with every fire that’s lit.
A smooth smoke chamber also helps to prevent the accumulation of soot and creosote – both of which can increase the risk of experiencing chimney fires.
Smoke chamber parging should only be performed by a professional chimney sweep or tech who is experienced and properly trained in the process. If the job is done incorrectly or if important steps or areas are missed, you’ll still experience inefficiency and buildup – and your home and system will still be at risk.
What’s the smoke chamber parging process like?
When you hire a sweep to get this job done, here’s what you can typically expect.
- Complete an inspection: Before moving forward with the parging process, your sweep should perform an inspection of your flue interior, identifying if any cracks, gaps, or other issues are present. That way, these can be addressed before moving forward.
- Prepare the area: The smoke chamber should be cleaned out to remove any soot, creosote, or debris. All of these things could interfere with the parging process and affect how well the job is done. The surface should also be pre-wetted and we’ll cut small cracks to give the mortar something to adhere to.
- Apply the parging materials: After the area is prepped, a special mortar is mixed and then applied to the walls of the space using a trowel. This mix should look like mud, but have a plastic-like consistency. The surface of your smoke chamber is then smoothed out to create an even, flat surface.
- Create a smooth finish: Once the parging material has dried, the surface is sanded down to create a smooth finish. The surface may also be coated with a specialized sealant to further improve the efficiency of the fireplace and prevent creosote buildup.
Is parging a smoke chamber necessary?
So, you know what smoke chamber parging is and what it entails, but… is it actually a necessity? Or is it just an optional service that homeowners can invest in to make their system run better?
Anymore, sweeps feel this is a service every fireplace owner should invest in. And, in fact, many coding laws and regulations now require it. In the end, the smoke chamber plays such an important role in the safety and efficient operation of a fireplace that it isn’t an area you should overlook.
So, to sum up, yes – smoke chamber parging is a necessity.
What Are the Dangers of Not Parging a Smoke Chamber?
There are plenty of advantages to gain from parging a smoke chamber smooth, like increased efficiency and less buildup. But what are threats that could occur if this service is neglected?
- Increased risk of fire: A corbeled smoke chamber is more prone to experience creosote accumulation and damage (like cracking, gaps, crumbling, etc.). This leaves pathways for heat and fire to escape into your home – and ups your risk of experiencing chimney fires too.
- Health hazards: If gapping and cracks are present, this also leaves more room for smoke and other hazardous fumes to enter your household. This could have a big effect on indoor air quality, and it could put those in the home at risk for illness.
- Lowered efficiency: A damaged smoke chamber means your system can’t function as efficiently. Smoke and fumes need a clear and smooth pathway to escape, and all of those bumps and ridges will significantly hinder their ability to do so.
- Code violations: Many local building codes nowadays require smoke chambers be parged for safety reasons. Failure to comply with these codes can result in fines and legal action.
- Money loss: If damages go unnoticed and unaddressed, you can bet they’ll only worsen – and you’ll need expensive repairs down the road. Neglect can even lead to a collapse in extreme cases.
So, is this service worth it? You bet.
What Do You Use to Parge a Smoke Chamber?
Like with most chimney repair services, specialized tools and supplies are needed for your tech to get this job done correctly and effectively.
- Protective gear: Using things like gloves, eye protection, a respirator/dust mask, and other safety gear is a must for most chimney-related jobs. This ensures soot and other debris doesn’t trigger any illnesses. This also includes tarps and coverings for floors and furniture – your home needs protection too!
- Sweeping equipment: The smoke chamber should be thoroughly swept clean before moving forward, so all materials used can properly adhere. Our techs can get this done with specialized brushes and products.
- Pointing Trowel: These are needed to apply and smooth out the mortar mix.
- Mortar Mix: Obviously, getting this job done without a mortar mix isn’t going to be possible. We’ll mix Portland cement, sand, water, and other aggregates to create this – but getting the proportions right is vital.
Because a correct mortar mix and special tools and equipment are required, we’ll always urge homeowners to trust a certified and professional tech, like the crew here at Highpoint, for this type of job.
CALL US TODAY 908-864-4114
Can I Parge My Smoke Chamber Myself?
Smoke chamber parging should only be completed by a certified chimney technician. Why? Because if not done properly, you’ll continue facing risks associated with a damaged chimney, like smoke exposure, gas leaks, chimney fires, house fires, and more. If you’re going to invest the time and money in chimney work, it’s worth ensuring the job is done right the first time – and the best way to guarantee this is by hiring our team from the start.
Even something as seemingly simple as mixing the mortar for the job can be tricky. We need to combine Portland cement, sand, and other ingredients to create the perfect coverage, but if too much sand is added, the mixture will be too grainy and unsuitable for use. On the flip side, not enough sand will result in mortar that’s too liquidy and it won’t stick to your walls.
And because this mixture dries so quickly, we only mix up enough to last us about 20 minutes. This means combining the ingredients just right over and over again until the job is finally complete. And then there’s the task of actually applying the mortar in a way that ensures it’s smooth and seamless.
See? It’s all a lot more complicated than it looks. That’s why we recommend relying on us. We have the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to ensure that the parging material is mixed and applied correctly, and that the smoke chamber functions safely and efficiently when all is said and done. We’ll also keep an eye out for any other existing issues, ensuring they’re spotted and addressed long before you put your fireplace to use.
How Long Before I Can Use My Fireplace After Smoke Chamber Parging?
In most cases, a chimney can be used just 24 hours after the parging process is completed. This will give the mortar mix adequate time to dry and cure, ensuring you can use your system safely and with ease. That said, damp weather or high humidity levels can slow down the curing process, so it’s always good to take these factors into consideration.
We recommend getting this service completed in the late spring or early summer, as weather conditions are ideal for curing. Not to mention, you likely won’t be using your fireplace this time of year anyway, so no dealing with delays like you might during your burn season.
Not sure what your waiting time should look like? Ask your chimney sweep about it at the end of the job to get their opinion on the matter. If you hire us, we’re happy to answer any questions or concerns you have along the way.
Leave Your Chimney in the Hands of Our Qualified Techs
Our team of experts is experienced, certified, and qualified to tackle any and all of your chimney or fireplace-related repairs and needs. That said, we offer more than just skills and knowledge… we’re also known for personalizing our services, ensuring each client gets exactly what they need based on their unique situation and setup.
We keep things like your burning preferences, your budget, and your design preferences in mind every time we make a change to your system, and we’ll always work with a safety-first mindset. With us, your home and family are in the best hands possible.
Give us a call at 908-864-4114 or book online now.