Wood planking in my smoke chamber!

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nate0918

New Member
Sep 24, 2021
47
Keizer, Oregon
After removing some of the smoke shelf to make clearance for an SS liner for a new insert in my fireplace, I was able to get a better view up inside the smoke chamber. With this better view and cleaning it out up there I noticed wood planking at the top of the smoke chamber! This fireplace is in my basement with another fireplace directly above it in the same chimney on the main floor of the house. This is directly below the flue and smoke shelf of the main floor fireplace. What the heck is this?

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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,441
central pa
After removing some of the smoke shelf to make clearance for an SS liner for a new insert in my fireplace, I was able to get a better view up inside the smoke chamber. With this better view and cleaning it out up there I noticed wood planking at the top of the smoke chamber! This fireplace is in my basement with another fireplace directly above it in the same chimney on the main floor of the house. This is directly below the flue and smoke shelf of the main floor fireplace. What the heck is this?

View attachment 288888
Looks like boards used as forms. They need to be removed
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,441
central pa
Is it possible it’s the imprint of the boards after they were removed?
Possible but it doesn't look like it. Regardless you need to check it
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
I was thinking the same (imprint). Knocking it with a metal rod should tell you whether it is wood or not
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,200
Northern NH
Must have been the eary 1970s, I was in jr high school and my dad decided to use the prior unused fireplace that came with the house we had bought. It was miserable to use. Its barely drafted despite the damper being full open. There was no inspection done on it beyond making sure the damper would open. We put up with it for a couple of months but fires were smoky. My dad was new to wood. Eventually he asked around and various folks told him something was not right. He opened the damper and could not see much light up the flue on a very sunny day. A bit more investigation and he found a large pine board laid across the transition to the flue well above the damper. It was blocking most of the flow and was charred significantly. Once it got removed the fireplace worked a lot better.

This was odd as this was a large development of homes built by one developer. There were four standard models that could be bought with various options including fireplaces. If a fireplace was not ordered, they would put up a block stack for an oil flue with a brick top. All the masonry was done by a contractor employee. Our house was odd for the neighborhood as the mason bought it for his daughter and added a fireplace in the basement and main floor along with a brick front on the house. It was the only one with two fireplaces in the entire development of 200 homes built over a 10 year period. The brick work was first rate with several trim details. In theory the mason was competent, but it may have been an extra detail added when they integrated the basement flue into the upper fireplace. There was a third flue for the oil burner so it was quite block of masonry.
 

nate0918

New Member
Sep 24, 2021
47
Keizer, Oregon
It's definitely real wood. I panicked for a second thinking that it was the subflooring of the main level before I realized there was no way that was possible! If it's just forms that were left in then I'll just dig them out. It's an awkward angle but I'll figure something out. Crisis averted.
 

nate0918

New Member
Sep 24, 2021
47
Keizer, Oregon
I was able to cut it out today, rigging up the tool took much longer than the cutting operation. I used hose clamps to secure an oscillating tool to a 5ft paint roller pole and was able to just barely reach it. I cut the pieces down the middle and most of it just fell out. One last piece was a pain but managed to wiggle it out with a flat bar attached to the pole. I had the oscillating tool plugged in to a switch-controlled outlet box so I could turn it on and off without having to reach up to the tool. The cheapo blade obviously didn't survive.

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clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
2,330
Colorado
Why can't they make those fireplaces with the liner in them easier to work on--some of them are so very tall--I know they are beautiful but they need inserts and liners and you cannot get at them unless you have a couple of people helping you..You did a real good job and so glad you solved that problem...old clancey
 

nate0918

New Member
Sep 24, 2021
47
Keizer, Oregon
Its just over 8ft tall from the fireplace floor to the top of the smoke chamber where the wood was at. I had already chiseled out some brick and cut out the damper to make room for the liner so I had about 6 inches to get the tool up there and hang on to it. The actual cutting only took a few minutes and another ten minutes or so with the flat bar to work out the stubborn pieces, not bad at all for someone in the same situation as me. The house was built in 1950, that wood had been smoldering for over 70 years.
 
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