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Your Chimney: Inside and Out

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A Must-Know for a Warm, Cozy Home: the Framework of a Chimney

The chimney, simple as it may seem, is pretty much like the human body. It has a lot of different parts that have specific functions. And in order for you to utilize it to its maximum potential, there needs to be a certain level of understanding as to the essentials of a chimney.

Let’s start with the fireplace. The fireplace alone is a complex structure, much like the body that holds all the internal organs. At the very heart of it all is the hearth. This is where the fire actually burns. The space surrounding it is the firebox. This area is very prone to damage so it’s smart to keep an eye on it and have regular maintenance checks. Right above the firebox is the throat where the fire goes through towards the chimney itself.

Knowing all the parts of your chimney and how they work together helps improve communication between you and your sweep.

Knowing all the parts of your chimney and how they work together helps improve communication between you and your sweep.

Three pieces that are mistakenly assumed to have aesthetic purposes only are the mantle, lintel, and hearth extension. The mantle which is the traditional area to hang your socks for Santa Claus actually helps in keeping the smoke from scattering into the house. The lintel which is commonly seen in arched windows and doors has the duty of bearing the weight of these structures to prevent them from collapsing. Lastly, the hearth extension on the floor directly outside the fireplace is vital in decreasing the probability of escaped fires consuming the house.

Going down, beneath the hearth is an ash dump. This is a passageway that keeps the fireplace tidy as ashes are allowed to go through by releasing the ash dump door. This now leads to the ash pit where ashes can accumulate. A clean out door is how you access the ash pit so that it can be regularly emptied. This is all held together by the foundation that should be made of really sturdy materials. Underneath it all is the footing that, by mere definition, is the foot of the entire chimney.

Going up, you enter the chimney. After the throat of the fireplace is the smoke chamber whose main function is compression. It squeezes the particles of smoke together so that the small area of the chimney isn’t overwhelmed; this prevents back drafting. When the chimney is not in use, a chimney damper is used to close the throat and keep rain water or small animals from getting inside the house. Behind the chimney damper is a flat compartment that catches dirt and water and enlarges the space of the smoke chamber to ease the passage of smoke into the flue. The flue is what we commonly call as ‘chimney’. This is where the smoke passes towards the outside. For safety purposes, the flue should have some lining. This is usually made of stainless steel or a special kind of tile. What we see from the outside is just the chimney case, classically made of bricks, surrounding the flue . To top it all off is a chimney crown fit for a king. It protects the chimney from being impaired by weather strains.

Now that you’re well equipped with the knowledge about the chimney, you are ready to own one and use it to its full functionality. Maintaining it won’t be such a hassle as well because you can easily identify the problem areas. Take good care of your chimney so it can do the same for you.