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Smoke Chamber Parging for the Safety of Your Chimney

For a chimney to hold up well and perform safely for many years, certain cleaning, maintenance and repair tasks need to be done regularly. One very important task that is important for chimney safety is called smoke chamber parging.

chimney inspection, grundy county tnThe smoke chamber

The smoke chamber is the open area (i.e., chamber) just above the fireplace damper. Smoke enters the chamber and is channeled up into the flue and out of your house.

For smoke to vent efficiently, the surfaces of the smoke chamber must be smooth and uncluttered with creosote and soot. This often is a problem with older chimney structures.


A process called corbelling was common in the construction of older chimneys. Corbelling features a variety of edges (like steps) and open masonry joints, both of which trap and collect creosote and soot.

Over time, these smoke byproducts can build up to the point that smoke can no longer draft smoothly. Additionally, with excess creosote, there’s the possibility of a chimney fire starting.

Sluggish drafting

When smoke can’t easily get up and into the chimney flue, it may back up into your home. Nobody likes smoke in the house, but there’s a bigger concern: carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide, which is present in wood smoke, can’t be seen or smelled, but it can cause serious problems for humans and animals when inhaled. Everything from upper respiratory symptoms to a potential fatality is possible when carbon monoxide is present.

Chimney fires

A large number of chimney fires in the United States each year begin in smoke chambers that have been neglected. A large, blazing chimney fire is, of course, very dangerous. But even smaller fires that start and go out on their own can be hazardous.

A chimney can experience many chimney fires without the homeowner being aware of them. Each of these fires can do incremental damage to the smoke chamber surfaces, the chimney flue, the flue liner, the chimney masonry and adjacent home building materials.

smoke chamber parging, winchester tnThe process of smoke chamber parging

For a professional with the right tools and experience, parging a smoke chamber is a fairly “routine” job. Surfaces are smoothed out either with a spray-on compound or a poured-in-place compound. The result is no more rough edges and sections within the chamber to collect flammable and draft-impeding materials.

Who to hire for this work

Like with most chimney repair and maintenance projects, it’s not advisable to hire a “handyman” or someone who’s “mechanically inclined.” Chimney work is a detailed process, and the technician must understand far more about the system than just the part he or she is working on.

Major damage has been caused by do-it-yourselfers who think that chimney projects are pretty much common sense. There’s nothing common about chimney repair and maintenance if you don’t know what you’re doing.

The person or company you hire for smoke chamber parging should be:

  • Experienced in this process
  • Able to explain exactly what will be done to your chimney during the work and why it’s necessary
  • Locally licensed
  • Certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)
  • Able to provide references
  • Fully insured

A1 Chimney Specialist of Winchester, TN, and Huntsville, AL, regularly performs smoke chamber parging for our customers to keep their chimneys safe and high-performing. We’re licensed and CSIA-certified. We know how to do the job right the first time.

Speak with a chimney expert today in the Winchester area by calling (931) 967-3595. In and around Huntsville, call (256) 285-4895.