Smoke Chamber Parging

You generally don’t come across the term “parging” in day to day life, but when it comes to chimneys, it’s a word worth knowing.

A parge coat is a layer of insulating, refractory mortar, and we usually talk about it in reference to the chimney’s smoke chamber. Smoke chambers – located just above the smoke shelf and the area where the throat damper is installed — take on a significant amount of the heat the fire in your firebox is creating. Years back, chimneys were built without taking this heat exposure into proper consideration, allowing high heat to build up in a smoke chamber. If damage was present, enough of that heat could potentially get through to the studs or headers close to the smoke chamber to ignite them.

The chimney industry has continued to improve chimney designs through the years, and one big step forward was the addition of a parge coat on the smoke chamber. A parge coating protects the masonry in your smoke chamber; seals up any small cracks or gaps that might be present; and smoothes out its surface. This parge coating makes the chimney safer by decreasing the chances of fires; making it easier for chimney sweeps to thoroughly clean it; and more often than not, improving the chimney’s draft. A parge coat also serves to strengthen the smoke chamber itself.

With all of the benefits of parging the smoke chamber, it isn’t simply a recommendation –the National Fire Protection Association’s code 211 calls for the parge coating of refractory mortar to be present. If your smoke chamber doesn’t have a parge coating, Coopertown Services can correct that. Don’t leave your family’s safety at risk, call us, today!

A close up of the inside of a fireplace smoke chamber that shows gaps that can allow heat and gasses to escape to other parts of your home
A parged smoke chamber that has no gaps or cracks and allows an easy way up the flue for smoke and fumes

Why Do We Need To Use Refractory Mortar?

When parging a smoke chamber, regular old mortar simply can’t and won’t do. Refractory mortar is a blend of materials (generally of cement, clay, silica, and other materials), but the key thing about it is that it is specially designed to hold up to the intense heat created in your fireplace, without cracking or failing. It’s that heat-resistant property that allows it to improve the performance of a smoke chamber, and improve the performance and safety of your chimney as a whole.

If your smoke chamber doesn’t currently have a parge coating of refractory mortar, or if it needs to be reparged, Coopertown Services can help. We’ve been parging, redesigning and repairing smoke chambers since 1978. Call us at 901-358-7777, or click here to schedule an appointmenty!


One of the common chimney renovations we perform is rebuilding fireboxes (the area of your fireplace where you actually build the fire). We know what we’re doing and will be happy to discuss whether you need this service.