Our Company Blog

What is a Smoke Chamber?

The smoke chamber is an important part of the fireplace and chimney system, because it helps the smoke find its way up the flue. The space where you see the fire burning is the firebox. The smoke rises up, and the next place you see it is the top of the flue. No one sees what goes on behind the scenes, but just above the firebox and below the flue is the smoke chamber, which is essential for an efficient chimney.

The Smoke Chamber’s Job

The smoke chamber consists of a slanted wall to direct the smoke up, and a shelf, called a smoke shelf, that keeps the smoke from falling back into the firebox. While the smoke is in the smoke chamber, the hot air, gases, and smoke mix together before rising up the chimney. Since heat rises, it assists the rest of the smoke in pushing up the chimney.

Maintaining the Smoke Chamber

Just like the rest of the chimney system, the smoke chamber should be maintained in order to be safe and efficient over time. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the smoke chamber should be parged smooth with a refractory insulated mortar mix, which directs the air across a smooth surface, while protecting the masonry from high heat. Even if your smoke chamber has never been parged, you can likely restore it to code compliance by scheduling a smoke chamber parge.

If you have an older fireplace, your smoke chamber may have tiered brick steps that form the smoke chamber. This may have worked for years, but it is far less efficient than a smoothly parged wall. The multiple joints and bricks of a non-parged smoke chamber can allow soot and creosote buildup. This slows air, making the rest of the chimney less efficient.

Hire a Professional

You don’t have to hire a master mason to parge your smoke chamber, but it’s definitely to your benefit to hire a certified chimney sweep. Billy Sweet Chimney Sweeps are CSIA-certified and experienced in restoring chimney systems to proper function. Whether your smoke chamber needs a simple repair, or if it’s never been parged before, we’ll take care of your chimney, and you’ll be surprised with how well it works. Parging the smoke chamber raises efficiency, generates less heat lost up the chimney, and requires fewer chimney sweeps than other systems. A more efficient system means less likelihood of a flue fire, less wood wasted to reach the desired temperature, and less necessary maintenance.

If you have not had your chimney inspected in the last 12 months, now is the time to do so. You may need to have your chimney cleaned, parts replaced, or your smoke chamber may need to be parged. Without scheduling an appointment with a chimney expert, you will never know.

Contact Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep today. Call 617-469-4528 or schedule an appointment online.