The Anatomy of the Masonry Fireplace Part 3: The Smoke Chamber

Home Inspector with Ryan and Son Chimneys Contractors LLC

The smoke chamber is an integral part of the operation of a fireplace.  Smoke chambers have many code requirements including clearances to combustibles, height and overall dimensions.

Typically, this is a seriously deficient area of a poorly constructed fireplace.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, improper smoke chamber construction is the 3rd leading cause of home fires related to chimneys.

The smoke chamber is just beyond the damper.  Most can be fully viewed with a strong light shining up from the firebox floor.  Most homeowners have probably never seen their smoke chambers.  These 2 examples of terrible smoke chambers are really not that far fetched.  Both of these chambers were in fireplace in very affluent areas of new jersey and BOTH are SERIOUS hazards.

Take a look at your smoke chamber, be careful not to get sooty, but tell me what you see?  Can you see bricks?  If so, its not parged as per the code.  Parging is a coating of fireclay or other approved mortar over the face of the brick.  Do you see any gaps? Holes?  How about brick and really white mortar joints?  If you see any of this, have your fireplace inspected by a FIRE Certified fireplace and Chimney Inspector.

Bad Smoke Chamberreally bad smoke chamber

Posted by

Bill Ryan

Ryan and Son Chimneys Contractors

(973) 398-3978

Fireplace Investigation Research and Education Certified Fireplace and Chimney Inspector # FP-089

International Association of Fireplace and Inspectors Certified Professional Chimney Inspector # CPI-002

National Fireplace Institute Certifed Specialist in Wood and Gas

Residential and Commercial Structures ICC/NJ Certified Building Inspector (license pending)


Comments (1)

Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

This is so amazing.  I never knew all this information.  I am going to check out your other posts.

Jun 28, 2010 04:23 PM