A Guide to Smoke Chamber Issues

smoke chamber repair, Keene NHBetween your fireplace and chimney flue is an area called the smoke chamber. Its purpose is to smoothly channel smoke, gases and hot air from the firebox to the flue. Issues with the smoke chamber often go unnoticed, because it’s located in a place that’s hard to get to and impossible to see.

Corbelled smoke chambers

It’s common in older homes to find smoke chambers that were built with a technique called “corbelling.” This process staggers the chamber’s bricks, similar to steps, as the area narrows closer to the flue opening.

Corbelling can lead to problems such as:

Deterioration of mortar joints that hold the bricks together: When this happens, toxic flue gases and extreme heat can “bleed” through the chamber and into adjacent areas including the air within the home.

Sluggish drafting: The un-smooth chamber surfaces created by corbelling can impede the drafting of smoke, which will make fires harder to start and keep going and could send smoke and deadly carbon monoxide back into the room.

Creosote buildup: Jagged sections of the smoke chamber are perfect for trapping flammable creosote that forms when wood fires are burned. Many fires that are called “chimney fires” are actually smoke chamber fires.

Smoke chamber parging

Professional chimney and fireplace technicians can parge your smoke chamber. Parging involves smoothing out rough areas within the chamber either by filling in specific sections or adding a complete smooth compound to all the chamber’s surfaces.

Smoke chambers in older homes often need to be parged to prevent the above and other negative effects due to corbelling. Newer homes also may need some level of smoke chamber parging if cracks, holes or jagged areas are present.

Only a licensed technician, preferably one who is certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), should perform smoke chamber parging. An untrained individual or “handyman” could cause significant problems within your smoke chamber due to a lack of understanding of ventilation principles and masonry building techniques.

The advantage of having your smoke chamber parged

Professional parging is advantageous to you as a homeowner in several ways:

  • Your fireplace will draft better and operate more efficiently
  • You’ll add many years of life to your smoke chamber and your overall fireplace/chimney system
  • Less creosote in the chamber means less chance of a fire
  • Less creosote also means less time involved and less expense in having your chimney system swept

chimney inspection, concord NHAnnual fireplace and chimney inspections

The only way to know the exact condition of your smoke chamber is through an inspection by a CSIA-certified chimney expert. Basic inspections should be scheduled once a year, with more involved inspections performed if specific damage is known or suspected.

The smoke chamber is one of the areas of a fireplace/chimney system that the average homeowner is unqualified to inspect and work on. As with the chimney liner and interior chimney masonry, your smoke chamber is basically hidden, and problems with it may not make themselves known until a very serious and dangerous issue exists.

Don’t wait for a disaster. Call Black Moose Chimney & Stove of Antrim, NH, today at (603) 525-7905. We’ll send a licensed, CSIA-certified technician to your home to perform a smoke chamber inspection and evaluation so you’ll quickly know if specialized work is necessary to restore it to safety and top performance.


First Thing

John RantaJohn Ranta
17:01 22 Mar 24
They arrived on time, worked quickly and showed me the results. Prfessional throughout. jr
william greenwilliam green
23:21 14 Mar 24
Really helped me out can't say enough good things highly recommend!!!! The young man that came to my home was very knowledgeable and friendly great attitude all around answered all my questions and left me stress free best of all left no mess.🤙🏻🤙🏻
Michael Dell'OrtoMichael Dell'Orto
18:39 14 Mar 24
Jaime ConleyJaime Conley
17:13 14 Mar 24
Sarah GilliattSarah Gilliatt
01:46 13 Mar 24
A very thorough and careful job done! Thank you.
Larry CookLarry Cook
15:11 07 Mar 24
I wanted to give 5 stars but they are very busy which meant I had a good wait for both the inspection/cleaning, then for a quote on repairs and then for the repairs. Their prices seemed a little high to me but I have nothing to compare with as they were highly recommended by someone I trust and other companies had plenty of negatives reviews which kept me from getting additional quotes. I am happy with the work and they promptly returned to fix a mistake that had been made. Chris the inspector, Jennifer in the office, and Alex and his repair crew were all pleasant and took the time to answer all of my questions. Alex and his crew even took their shoes off (it was winter) before entering my house without even being asked! So if you are not in a rush and want to ensure you chimney is as safe as possible then I think you'll be happy with Black Moose.
Rebecca DeFuscoRebecca DeFusco
22:35 21 Feb 24
After a recent sweep of our chimney, it was discovered that our flue tiles were cracked. Black Moose techs were hard working, detail oriented and professional! Nice jobs guys! See you next year for my cleaning!
Karen CKaren C
14:52 14 Feb 24
Excellent I highly recommend Black Moose Chimney and Stove; Kelly and Liam are awesome, they did a great job. Extremely professional, arrived early, went through everything with a fine tooth comb ensuring pellet stove was thoroughly cleaned. They also were respectful of my home, conscientious and cleaned up after themselves. Made sure stove worked prior to leaving and told me to call promptly if anything came up afterward. Will definitely use them again.
Denise ClarkDenise Clark
16:32 31 Jan 24
We've had Black Moose clean our chimney for a number of years.But recently, we had an emergency situation at our home involving our chimney & oil furnace flue, which was caked full of soot from a malfunctioning furnace. They came & cleaned out both flues in no time, even going up on the roof with snow on it! They cleaned up after their work in the interior rooms where the oil furnace and the woodstove are located. Great work. Reasonable prices. Very nice people. You can't go wrong with Black Moose.
Joe GJoe G
18:30 24 Jan 24
Goods: The technicians know their business, very efficient in cleaning/inspection along with cleaning up after the 'dirty work'.Others: Communications could be more effective. Despite early coordination about scope of work (multiple flues within same chimney) the estimate provided did not reflect this and the final invoice was significantly more than the estimate provided.Quote for follow-on chimney relining was significantly more than that offered by other companies in the area (and far more than neighbors experienced for similar work accomplished by other companies)