The Parts of a Chimney, from Top to Bottom
Chimneys do an amazing job in filtering smoke from a fireplace out into the outside air. To accomplish this, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes with chimneys that most people aren’t aware of. Many parts work together to provide efficient and safe operation. When any of these chimney parts is damaged or worn out or not working optimally, problems are sure to pop up.
Fortunately the average homeowner doesn’t need to know everything there is to know about each part of a chimney. But, it’s a good idea to be familiar with some of the parts so you’ll know why they’re important and be able to talk knowledgeably about them with a fireplace service professional.
Let’s take a look at parts you’ll find in most chimneys.
The chimney cap sits atop the chimney and acts as a guard against rain water and the various types of debris than can get into a chimney. It’s never advisable to have a fireplace without a chimney cap, which also serves to keep burning embers from escaping out into the air and landing on the roof.
The chimney crown covers the bricks and mortar at the top of the chimney. Its purpose is to keep water from damaging the chimney structure. This is accomplished by an angled, or sloped, design that allows water to run off.
Typically made of steel, aluminum, lead or copper, chimney flashing is laid to create a seal between the perimeter of the chimney and the roof that encases it. Flashing keeps rain water and run-off from melting snow from getting down into the house and causing damage to building materials or the chimney itself.
The flue is the inside of the chimney. They have various designs, all with the intention of efficiently taking smoke from the firebox to the outside air. Double flues are sometimes seen in brick chimneys; metal chimneys have just a single flue.
A chimney liner protects the bricks and mortar of the chimney and makes cleaning a lot easier. Liners made of stainless steel and aluminum can be installed pre-built. Other types, such as cast-in-place liners, are poured into the flue and “built” by hand.
A handle operates the damper, which sits above the firebox and acts as a valve. When open, it allows smoke to move through the exhaust system. When closed, it keeps outside air outside and inside air inside and also keeps out of the house small animals that love getting into chimneys.
There are other chimney parts, but these are the primary parts you should be aware of, because they’re the ones where aging and damage are most likely to occur. By arranging for an annual inspection and cleaning by a certified chimney sweep, you’ll ensure that these and all other parts of your chimney are working safely and efficiently.
Before winter sets in is a good time to call Chimney Specialists of Highland, Wis., for a thorough cleaning and inspection of your chimney and fireplace. Call us at (608) 929-4887, and be ready for a season of safe fireplace operation.