Top to Bottom Chimney Parts
To look at a chimney, you wouldn’t think there was much going on. But there’s more than meets the eye. Chimneys may look a little crude, but they’re pretty sophisticated devices, employing a number of physics and mathematical disciplines to do a single job: safely channel smoke from a fireplace to the outdoors.
The reason it’s important to know a little about your chimney and its various parts is because any part that is worn out, damaged or otherwise compromised can lead to serious problems all the way from faulty operation to a devastating house fire.
Here are the primary parts of most chimneys.
The crown is a solid, slightly sloped structure that sits atop the chimney, protecting the bricks and mortar from water damage. Chimneys that are not properly crowned are susceptible to destruction over time.
The cap also is on top of the chimney, and it’s purpose is to prevent rain water and debris from entering the structure. Wire mesh sides allow smoke to exit the chimney while keeping burning particles inside.
This is the exhaust system of the chimney, the channel that draws smoke from the firebox and sends it into the air. Brick chimneys may have more than one flue, while metal chimneys have just one.
The chimney flashing is what seals the space between the roof and the outside of the chimney itself. Flashing is a critical component in that it prevents water from rain or melting snow from seeping down into the home. Flashing is commonly made of copper, aluminum, lead or galvanized steel.
Chimney liners line the inside of the chimney to protect mortar joints and bricks, make cleaning easier and enhance overall chimney performance. Aluminum and stainless steel liners are purchased and then installed. Cast-in-place and Terra-Cotta liners are hand-built within the chimney.
The damper is a valve at the bottom of the chimney that can be closed tight with the fireplace is not in use and remains open when a fire is burning. A closed damper keeps cool air inside the home in the summer and prevents cold winter air from entering. It also prevents animals that get into the chimney from getting into the house.
Located just behind the damper, the smoke shelf protects by catching debris and water, and it assists in moving smoke into the chimney.
The throat is the area just above the firebox and below the damper where fire goes through.
The only way to know if all of these chimney parts are in correct working order is to have them inspected. Annual inspection is recommended by all fire safety agencies as a way to ensure that your fireplace and chimney are operating properly and safely.
Burlington Fireplace of Wisconsin is standing by to help with full-service fireplace and chimney inspection, cleaning, repair and maintenance. Call us now at (262) 763-3522, and make sure you’re ready for winter.