If you own a fireplace, but aren’t well-versed on chimney anatomy, you’re not alone. There are actually quite a few parts that much up your fireplace and chimney, all of which need to work together to give you the best burning experience possible, so remembering the ins and outs of them all isn’t always so easy.
One area that tends to get less recognition than others is the smoke chamber. The smoke chamber is located right about the firebox, so it’s not visible unless you have appropriate camera equipment. This makes it rather forgettable… but that doesn’t make its job any less important!
Your smoke chamber is shaped like a funnel, with a large opening at the bottom and a smaller opening at the top that leads to your chimney flue. It’s role is to guide the smoke from your firebox up to the chimney, so it can safely exit your home. Without a smoke chamber, your smoke would bounce off of your interior masonry walls and most of it would flow back into your home – definitely not ideal.
What Type of Maintenance Does My Smoke Chamber Need?
Now, a common problem with smoke chambers is that most were originally built with a corbelled design, looking much like an upside-down staircase. Unfortunately, this can lead to some issues as your fireplace fumes work their way up.
The first problem is hindered airflow. Instead of fumes moving smoothly up into your chimney, all of those extra bumps and ridges cause things to get caught up. This ends up hindering efficiency and also increases the likelihood of backdrafts.
Another issue is that, when these fumes get caught up, they can linger on your brickwork, which then triggers decay and deterioration. The more your masonry breaks down, the higher your chances are of smoke and harmful gases entering your home. Along with this, pathways may be created for flames to reach adjacent woodwork.
It’s because of these reasons that sweeps nowadays are urging homeowners to smooth out their smoke chamber. Not only does this give smoke a quick, seamless, and effective exit, but it also ensures you’re covered should you someday need your insurance company to cover chimney repairs.
That’s right – most codes and regulations nowadays actually require the smoke chamber be smoothed out (or parged), so insurance might not help you out if you still haven’t gotten this issue addressed.
Fortunately, we have a smoke chamber sealant that can fill in any gaps or imperfections, as well as cover that harmful staircase design. When all is said and done, you’ll notice better performance from your fireplace, and you’ll gain peace of mind, too, knowing things are operating as safely and as efficiently as possible.
Signs My Smoke Chamber Needs Repairs
Wondering what you should be looking for in terms of smoke chamber-related damage? If you notice any of the following issues, then it may be time to have your system looked at.
- Smoke coming into your home through your mortar joints. This is a clear sign that things are starting to break down, and it could be due to a faulty smoke chamber design.
- Soot stains on your hearth. A damaged smoke chamber will leave your fireplace more vulnerable to stains as smoke and vapors flow through and near areas they shouldn’t be.
- Creosote accumulates quickly. Did your sweep note more creosote than usual during your last inspection? If your smoke chamber is corbeled, that could be a likely cause.
- You experience poor draft. Is smoke working its way into your living space through your firebox? Then, your system is having issues sending smoke up and out your flue effectively, and your smoke chamber could be to blame.
Don’t Wait – Call Us in Today
This is maintenance you won’t want to put off. If you’re worried at all about the state of your system, stop putting it to use, then schedule an inspection, so we can get to the bottom of it right away.
Why hire us? Well, the team here at Northeastern Masonry & Chimney has been serving the Albany area for close to three decades now, and customers come back to us time and time again because we are known for offering that high-quality, personalized service they’re seeking.
We’re also committed to staying educated and up-to-date on industry news, ensuring you’re always getting the highest level of care possible. Thanks to our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certification and our membership with the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG), you can bet we stay on top of it all!
So, don’t wait. The longer you put off necessary chimney repairs, the more you could be putting your home at risk. Call us in for an inspection, and if your smoke chamber needs further attention, we’ll do everything we can to get you back where you need to be.
We look forward to speaking with you soon!