Wood burning fireplace, interior chimney smoke chamber repair? Parging?

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

Marconis

Member
Dec 13, 2021
64
NY
Hi, everyone! 1929 house with a clay tile lined interior chimney. First home and first fireplace! Looking for some advice on the state of my smoke chamber. We moved in this past April and in October had a chimney company come out to rebuild the crown, install a new flue pipe, and install a new cap. They also installed a stainless steel liner up my boiler flue.

They said a sweep wasn’t really needed as the clay liner “looked great” and didn’t have much creosote buildup or at least any of concern. Soot staining but nothing major. They just cleaned the firebox. Since they came, we’ve been burning 1-2 fires a week and I’m pretty obsessed with it, not gonna lie. The chimney performs exceptionally well in my opinion. Great draft. We’ve been burning wood under 15% and it barely smokes, exits the chimney as a nice heat wave.

One thing I’ve noticed, though, is the smoke chamber is missing a bit of mortar around a number of bricks, particularly at the rear and left walls. There’s shiny (albeit thin) creosote buildup on the mortar. The white soot in the photos I’m assuming is just ash? Comes off extremely easy with wind/ash brush. Wondering if you think it’s worth it to have this repaired next season? How the heck would one even parge over this, since it’s an interior chimney? I think my biggest concern is a large gap right where the liner starts. Posting the photos in an Imgur link. Have a look. The wall at the rear of the chimney is ice cold to the touch when burning so doesn’t seem there’s any heat escaping through gaps.

I’ve stuck my head up here more times than my wife would like, but I find this all incredibly interesting and plan on utilizing the fireplace to its fullest extent, and want to keep it safe and operating well. Before I close the damper I usually stick a flashlight up just to see if anything’s changed, and it’s been pretty consistent. I’m sure I’ll stop doing that… soon.

Thanks!

 
Last edited:

bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
830
Utah & NJ
"this all incredibly interesting and plan on utilizing the fireplace to its fullest extent,"

If it was my house i'de put a woodstove in the fireplace. It will actually heat your house, you will use much less wood, you can close the door and leave it without worrying about sparks, logs rolling out and burning your house down, and a bunch of other reasons
 

Marconis

Member
Dec 13, 2021
64
NY
"this all incredibly interesting and plan on utilizing the fireplace to its fullest extent,"

If it was my house i'de put a woodstove in the fireplace. It will actually heat your house, you will use much less wood, you can close the door and leave it without worrying about sparks, logs rolling out and burning your house down, and a bunch of other reasons

Thanks for the suggestion. Something to think about, for sure.
 

Marconis

Member
Dec 13, 2021
64
NY
Also, here’s a better photo up my flue from yesterday after a good four or so hours of burning a little over 1.6cf of well-seasoned wood. Wondering if these grey brown ash/soot deposits are indicative of that, can’t see anything shiny on the tiles. I’m new to this though so I could be wrong. Posting here for learn, more than anything.

4CF76782-88DA-4ACA-9F93-F37D01FA5781.jpeg
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
2,996
SE North Carolina
Your sweep said it looked ok. Having my head up my two fireplaces I don’t see anything that really concerns me, but I’m no expert. It really comes down to how safe you want it to be. Adding a stove or insert with insulated liner increases the safety. How much?? I don’t know . Probably an amount that shouldn’t be discounted. but one chimney fire in a clay lined chimney could be is all it takes to loose a house. For cost perspective I just DIY installed a Drolet 1800i insert with insulated 25’ liner and block off plate. Cost was 2000$.

I haven’t been able to find any after incident pictures or videos of chimney fires in insulated liners. Probably the liner would need be be replaced. Biggest danger would be flaming creosote landing and igniting roof.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WoodBurner777

Marconis

Member
Dec 13, 2021
64
NY
Your sweep said it looked ok. Having my head up my two fireplaces I don’t see anything that really concerns me, but I’m no expert. It really comes down to how safe you want it to be. Adding a stove or insert with insulated liner increases the safety. How much?? I don’t know . Probably an amount that shouldn’t be discounted. but one chimney fire in a clay lined chimney could be is all it takes to loose a house. For cost perspective I just DIY installed a Drolet 1800i insert with insulated 25’ liner and block off plate. Cost was 2000$.

I haven’t been able to find any after incident pictures or videos of chimney fires in insulated liners. Probably the liner would need be be replaced. Biggest danger would be flaming creosote landing and igniting roof.

Thanks for your input. They didn't run a camera up it or anything, but have to trust the professionals to some degree :).

So, funny enough, we have another inactive chimney that used to be used for a wood burning stove. Platform is still there and the pipe entrance is just capped. Part of me wants to demolish that chimney (it needs tons of repointing and new bricks), and convert this entire fireplace to a wood burning stove chimney. I guess I'll compare the costs of parging/etc. next year and see where to go from there. Last night our living room got up 4 degrees from the fire and within an hour it was back down; my wife and I actually looked at each other and said, "Damn". So I guess it would be nice to have some heating efficiency!