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Eliminating Smoke Chamber Draft Problems

A fireplace from which smoke backs up into the house needs to be professionally inspected right away.  If you’re having drafting problems, it means something isn’t working the way it should, and only a certified chimney services technician can diagnose the cause of the problem and undertake the necessary repair or component-replacement work.

Often drafting issues involve the smoke chamber.

What is a smoke chamber?

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The smoke chamber is located at the base of the flue, just above the firebox.  It is here that smoke and heat begin their ascent up the chimney.  Smoke chambers have a uniquely designed wall that guides smoke into the flue, and most have a smoke shelf to keep smoke from entering the home.

Smoke chamber issues

During a fire, temperatures within the smoke chamber are very high, as is the level of corrosive chemicals.  After multiple fires are burned, creosote and soot can coat the smoke chamber walls and the smoke shelf.  The more buildup there is, the more chance for damage to the masonry inside the chamber as well as a reverse draft of smoke and carbon monoxide.

A sluggish draft in the smoke chamber causes the air to slow down, which results in more creosote buildup, which further slows the draft, and so on and so on until a very serious problem exists.

While smoke in a room is no fun, the biggest concern is carbon monoxide (CO).  Invisible and odorless, CO in sufficient amounts can kill humans and pets; even in smaller amounts, it can contribute to a whole host of health problems.

Cleaning and repairing the smoke chamber

Fixing drafting problems related to the smoke chamber begins with an inspection by a technician who is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.  A skilled chimney sweep understands how smoke chambers operate and knows how to spot signs of damage.  For example, the inspector will determine that the shape and size of the chamber is proper for your fireplace.  Attention will be paid to the smoothness of the walls, and the refractory mortar will be inspected for signs of decomposition.

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The technician also will look for exposed bricks whose corners are picking up creosote and soot and impeding the drafting of smoke.  Depending on what is found during the inspection, the next steps could include a complete smoothing of the smoke chamber walls, adding insulation to the masonry and adjusting the size of the chamber to allow it to operate at peak efficiency. In addition, the chimney sweep will thoroughly clean soot and creosote from the smoke chamber and the flue, which will restore proper drafting and greatly reduce the risk of a chimney fire.

The smoke chamber is one of several possible culprits when smoke isn’t drafting properly.  A CSIA-certified chimney sweep knows all the possible causes and can find them and fix them.

Are you having drafting issues with your chimney?  A professional chimney services technician from Northeastern Chimney of West Hartford, CT, will be happy to help you solve the problem.  We serve the entire West Hartford area.  Call us at (860) 233-5770.

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