The Anatomy of a Fireplace
The chimney and fireplace may look like a simple structure, but in reality are comprised of a dozen main components that work together so you can enjoy the warmth of a burning fireplace. And to help you provide the care and maintenance your fireplace needs to keep your home and family safe, here is an introduction to the anatomy of a fireplace.
1. Chimney Crown
The chimney crown is affixed to the top of the chimney to help prevent water and debris from accumulating inside the flue.
The channel between the chimney walls is the flue. It directs smoke and gases up the chimney where it is expelled into the atmosphere.
3. Flue Liner
The flue liner is clay, ceramic or metal material that is fitted inside the flue. It protects the chimney walls from heat, moisture, smoke and combustible materials.
4. Smoke Chamber
The smoke chamber is located inside the chimney at the bottom of the flue just above the damper. Its main function is to direct the exhaust gases and combustible materials up the flue.
The narrow portion of the chimney just above the smoke shelf is the throat. The throat increases draft in the chimney creating a vacuum effect that sends the exhaust up the flue. This is also where the damper is installed.
6. Fireplace Damper
The fireplace damper is a steel or iron plate that is installed in the throat of the chimney. It acts like a trap door to seal the fireplace from the outside and prevent heated air from escaping the home when it is not in use.
7. Smoke Shelf
The smoke shelf is a ledge at the bottom of the throat. It deflects downdrafts and sends smoke from the firebox through the flue. The smoke shelf also catches debris that fall through the chimney.
The firebox is the pit at the bottom of your fireplace where fuel is burned to create a fire that will be used to heat your home.
The brick or stone masonry at the base of the fireplace is called the hearth. It may also be made of prefab materials and gives the fireplace its appearance.
The mantel is a shelf located just above the fireplace to provide support. It’s also a decorative piece that is often used to display small objects like pictures and other knick-knacks.
11. Ash Dump
Some older fireplaces have an ash dump located at the bottom of the firebox that collects ash and dumps it into a bin in the basement through a door or metal grate.
12. Cleanout Door
The chimney cleanout door provides exterior access, either through the basement or outside, to remove ash and other debris that collect in the chimney. A damaged or missing cleanout door is a fire hazard and should be immediately replaced.
13. Footing and Foundation
The footing and foundation is the bottom most part of the fireplace. It is built to provide structural support for the fireplace and chimney.
In cooperation with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG), we recommend all homeowners have an annual chimney sweep and inspection. Contact us to schedule an appointment with a certified chimney sweep today!