Santa's Friend Chimney Service

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The Anatomy of a Masonry Chimney

If you have a masonry fireplace, the anatomy of its chimney consists of many important parts. Many homeowners are unfamiliar with these parts and their functions, and knowing these parts’ names and functions can help homeowners identify exactly what is wrong with their chimneys. As part of our duties as Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps, we at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service enjoy teaching our customers about their fireplace and chimney systems. We would like to tell you the parts of a masonry chimney and explain what exactly they do to keep your fireplace working safely.

Masonry Chimney Anatomy - Jackson MS

As identified by the CSIA, the anatomy of a masonry fireplace and chimney system include the following parts:

  • Mortar Crown – Also known as a chimney crown, this part sits on top of the chimney to prevent water penetration of the bricks and mortar as well as water leaks down the flue and into your home.
  • Flue – Available in different shapes and sizes, the flue is a chamber that vents out the corrosive byproducts of combustion from the fireplace. A single chimney can have multiple flues if several fireplaces or stoves are connected to the same chimney.
  • Smoke Chamber – The area above the firebox and below the flue, the smoke chamber allows smoke to mix and rise up the flue. Most smoke chambers are made from terracotta tiles. This part is also known as the chimney throat.
  • Smoke Shelf – The smoke shelf functions with the smoke chamber to push smoke out the flue. This area is behind the damper and is the bottom of the chimney.
  • Damper – Usually located in the same area as the smoke chamber and smoke shelf, the damper seals your chimney shut when the fireplace is not in use. A very important part of your chimney, the damper needs to function properly to keep heated air from escaping out the chimney when there is no fire.
  • Lintel – A heavy piece of angle iron that holds up the bricks over the center of the fireplace, the lintel is embedded into the brick.
  • Firebox – A critical component of your fireplace and chimney system, the firebox is a two- or three-walled structure that contains the direct heat of the fire and guides the smoke into the smoke chamber. Since the firebox is exposed to such high temperatures, this part tends to deteriorate more quickly than other parts of the anatomy of your chimney. It is crucial that the firebox is constructed with the right materials and kept in good repair.
  • Ash Dump – Equipped with a door, the ash dump is located directly below the center of the firebox. When the ash dump door is open, ashes from the fire fall into the ash dump. The ash dump makes it simple to remove ashes from the firebox.
  • Clean Out Door – Most often located in the basement of your home, the clean out door allows you to clean out the ash dump more easily.

Have questions about your chimney’s anatomy? Contact Santa’s Friend Chimney Service or click here to ask our staff whatever you need to know about the parts of your chimney.

By Jim Robinson on February 27th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

The Signs that It Is Time for Firebox Replacement

Most people choose their fireplace based on the way that it looks and never imagine that fireplace replacement will ever be something that they need. However, over time, a firebox does become worn down or damaged and may need to be maintained. There are a few signs homeowners can look for to let them know that it is time to call in some help.

Fireplace Insert - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

Over time,  firebox panels may begin to look cracked or worn down. Although some homeowners enjoy this look, it can actually be dangerous. If it is cracked or there appears to be pieces falling down from the inside, it is time for repairs or for a complete firebox replacement.

In addition to the wear and tear of old age, water buildup can lead to significant damage in a fireplace system. If the it is exposed to a great deal of moisture, it will eventually weaken and fall apart. Try scraping the firebox and see if it starts to come apart in any places. If it does, then it would be a good idea to replace it before the damage becomes even more significant.

Some homeowners may look at their fireplaces and not be able to tell whether or not they require any maintenance. In this situation, it is better to be safe than sorry. Instead of playing a guessing game, call in a CSIA certified chimney sweep to take a look and determine what maintenance, if any, is necessary.

If a firebox is not properly maintained, the entire household may be at risk every time they decide to enjoy a warm fire. If any pieces appear to be crumbling or falling off, it is time to call in a professional to assess the situation. This damage may occur over time as the result of age, but it can also be caused by significant water damage.

By Jim Robinson on May 19th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment