If you’ve ever wondered what’s inside of your fireplace, now is the time to learn about your home’s chimney anatomy! Your fireplace and chimney consist of several components (up to 22 parts) that keep the smoke flowing efficiently out of your fireplace and into the home. With so many moving parts, knowing about their functions can be useful information for general maintenance or identifying possible problems.
Here are 7 parts you should know.
1. Chimney Flashing
Flashing is the sheet metal that wraps around the base of the chimney and meets the house. Although many people don’t fully understand the importance of the chimney flashing, it’s one of the first areas checked for breaks and voids. This area of the chimney is especially important because if the integrity is compromised, then a homeowner may be exposed to thousands of dollars for structural repairs.
Think of the chimney damper as a lid for your fireplace. The purpose of the damper is to seal a fireplace off from the outside when it’s not in use. Not only does this block drafts to keep warm air inside, but it helps to keep heating and energy costs low.
3. Smoke Chamber
In general, once smoke leaves your firebox, it rises up into the smoke chamber. This fireplace component sits between the damper and the flue to gently compress the byproducts of combustion that exit through the chimney. When working properly, it does so without causing a backdraft.
4. Chimney Flue
Not only is the flue the largest portion of the chimney, but its similarity to the liner makes it a confusing part of the chimney. The chimney flue is the vertical shoot that carries smoke and other combustion materials from the fireplace to the outdoors. To help protect your home and insulate the chimney, chimneys are typically lined with refractory cement, clay flue tiles, or a stainless steel tube.
5. Chimney Liner
The liner, on the other hand, must remain clear of any defects to fully serve its purpose. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, a chimney liner serves three main functions:
- Protecting the house from heat transfer to combustibles.
- Protecting the masonry from the corrosive byproducts of combustion.
- Providing a correctly sized flue for optimum efficiency of appliances.
6. Chimney Cap
The cap is the cement part at the very top of the chimney. Without a cap on your chimney, small critters and moisture can easily find their way inside your home. Furthermore, if the chimney cap has become cracked, it’s important to repair or replace it as soon as possible.
7. Chimney Crown
When smoke exits your chimney, the chimney crown is the final part that it passes through. Therefore, the chimney crown needs to protect the chimney from water intrusion and direct water away from the chimney flue opening. Without a proper chimney crown, rain damage can seep into the chimney structure and severely cause damage.
Chimney Anatomy from a Chimney Expert
In short, your fireplace is a complex system that requires a routine inspection to ensure it continues operating efficiently. To properly care for and maintain your fireplace, you’ll need to understand its construction and anatomy. Therefore, if you have questions about your chimney anatomy and fireplace or notice that it’s in need of repairs, call the Chimney Expert! We have over 20 years of experience servicing Milwaukee chimneys. Contact us today for a free estimate!