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The anatomy of your chimney

From the outside, your chimney seems simple enough. It’s a hollow tube that carries smoke from your fireplace or heating stove out of your home. On the inside, your chimney is much more complicated. There are many nooks, crannies and different working parts. Understanding the anatomy of your chimney can help you to communicate concerns with your chimney sweep and help you understand any concerns or problems your chimney sweep discusses with you.

Do you have a metal or masonry chimney?

Masonry chimney - Indianapolis IN - Your Chimney Sweep

To understand your chimney, you first have to know what type of fireplace and chimney system you have. There are masonry fireplaces, built of brick and stone, and there are prefabricated fireplaces, factory-built lightweight metal fireboxes with a metal chimney. Occasionally, you will find a hybrid fireplace system, which most often combines a masonry firebox with a metal chimney. You should be able to determine the type of chimney you have by glancing in your firebox, and perhaps peering up the chimney with a flashlight.

What is inside the chimney, anyway?

The components of a factory-built fireplace vary. Each one is specially constructed to create the ideal burning conditions for your fireplace. Masonry chimneys, however, are a little more complex. They can contain up to 22 different components to help usher smoke upward and away from your living spaces.
The basic components of a chimney are:

  • The chimney throat. Located just above the firebox, this if the first chamber that smoke rises into from your fireplace.
  • The smoke shelf. As the name suggests, the smoke shelf is a horizontal shelf at the bottom of the chimney throat. It’s meant to keep any debris from falling down the chimney flue and into the firebox.
  • The damper. You’re likely familiar with opening and closing the damper. Located at the bottom of the chimney throat, the damper serves as a “door” to the rest of your fireplace. When closed, it keeps drafts, animals or debris from finding their way into your home. When open, it allows smoke to exit the firebox.
  • Smoke chamber. From the throat, smoke travels into a smoke chamber, where it is funneled upward.
  • Flue. The flue is the main portion of your chimney, the long, hollow tube through which smoke rises on its way out of your home.
  • Crown or chase. If you have a masonry chimney, your chimney will be topped with a masonry crown, which helps to keep water flowing away from the inside of your chimney. A prefabricated chimney has a metal chase cover to serve the same function.
  • Chimney cap. At the very top of your chimney, there should be a chimney cap, which is elevated off of the flue with a wire case. It prevents water from running down the inside of the flue and keeps animals or debris from entering the chimney.

Fortunately, the certified chimney technicians at Your Chimney Sweep are experts on all of the elements of your chimney. When you’re scheduling your next chimney sweeping, give us a call! In addition to providing you with a thorough chimney cleaning and inspection, we’ll be able to answer any questions or address any concerns you have about the anatomy of your chimney.

By Joe Sauter on February 12th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment