Parge Your Chimney’s Smoke Chamber this Summer
The warmer months are ideal times to schedule chimney cleaning, inspections and maintenance. One important maintenance job your chimney may need that you don’t know about is called smoke chamber parging.
“Parging” means smoothing. The smoke chamber is an open area that sits just above the fireplace damper and is the first area that starts channeling smoke and combustion gases up and out of the chimney.
Issues with corbelled smoke chambers
Depending on when your chimney structure was built, a process called “corbelling” may have been used to construct the smoke chamber. Corbelling, used extensively in chimney systems of older homes, is sturdy but it has several drawbacks: namely, it presents many corners and exposed masonry joints that tend to collect combustion byproducts.
Creosote and soot can build up within corbelled smoke chambers to the extent that a chimney fire or serious drafting problems may occur.
Creosote is highly flammable and is responsible for many chimney fires each year in the U.S. The more creosote, the more devastating a fire can be when the substance ignites.
A large buildup inside a smoke chamber can reduce the chimney’s drafting efficiency, sending combustion gases including deadly carbon monoxide into the home. Carbon monoxide is both invisible and odorless, so it can be within your rooms without you knowing it.
How to know if your smoke chamber needs attention
Like most internal areas within a chimney structure, your smoke chamber isn’t easy to access by simply getting in there and checking it out. A smoke chamber inspection using video camera technology is the best way to assess the condition of a smoke chamber.
This operation should be performed only by licensed, certified chimney technicians who have the training and equipment to safely inspect and evaluate your smoke chamber and other parts of your chimney. Your technician will recommend the best method for parging and also alert you to other problems that may exist within your chimney/fireplace system.
It’s recommended by all fire-safety agencies including the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) that chimneys be inspected once a year, whether or not they’re showing signs of damage or malfunction.
Only through a professional inspection can you make sure you’re getting the right repairs done when they’re needed and keeping your chimney as safe and efficient as it can be.
Even well-parged smoke chambers need periodic cleaning, which can be done during annual chimney sweep services, usually performed by the technician who handles your inspections.
Smoke chamber parging
Chimney technicians use two different methods to parge or smooth out the surfaces within smoke chambers to prevent creosote buildup and drafting obstructions.
- Spray on: This process sprays a new coating over the existing smoke chamber surfaces, ensuring smoothness throughout the entire structure.
- Cast-in-place: Here, new masonry is applied over corbelled surfaces. This is a good technique to strengthen older or damaged smoke chambers as well as to smooth out the surfaces.
If you’re not sure about the condition of your smoke chamber, Atlanta-area Chimney Solutions can inspect it and perform any necessary parging to smooth out surfaces and aid in a clean, efficient chimney system. We provide smoke chamber parging and all other chimney repair and maintenance services. We also provide CSIA-certified chimney cleaning, repairs and complete chimney inspections.
Speak with a chimney expert today at (770) 255-1300.