Brush Up on Your Fireplace & Chimney Terminology
How much do you know about your fireplace and chimney? Here are some common words and terms you may have heard but weren’t sure of their meaning.
ASH DUMP: A space beneath the fireplace where ash can be collected and then removed.
BAFFLE: A device that manages the direction of flue gases and can cause fires to burn more efficiently.
BLOWER: A fan inside a fireplace/stove that blows heat into the room.
CARBON MONOXIDE: A toxic gas produced by wood or gas fires, particularly when combustion is incomplete. Carbon monoxide can cause sickness and death.
CHIMNEY CAP: A full-width component that covers and protects the entire top of the chimney. Both chimney caps and smaller flue covers keep rain, snow, animals and debris out of the flue.
CHIMNEY SWEEP: The name given to the process of cleaning creosote and obstructions out of a chimney flue. It’s also the name for individuals who do this work.
CHIMNEY LINER: Typically made of clay tile, metal or a poured-in-place compound, chimney liners run the length of the flue to protect masonry and provide a smooth, properly sized channel for smoke to move up and away from the home.
CREOSOTE: The byproduct of smoke combustion that can form as a sticky, flakey or solid substance inside the flue. Creosote is highly flammable and should be removed by a trained chimney sweep once a year.
CHIMNEY CROWN: The sloped concrete covering at the top of the chimney designed to protect the flue and masonry from water damage.
DAMPER: Dampers open and close to control the flow of air between the home and the outside environment. Most are installed just above the firebox. Others are placed at the top of the chimney.
DRYER VENT CLEANING: An important service offered by some chimney companies to prevent fires by removing blockages from the vent systems connected with clothes dryers.
FIREBOX: The open compartment in a fireplace or stove where wood and gas fires are created.
FIREPLACE INSERT: A factory-made appliance that goes in the firebox of a masonry fireplace. Inserts can run on gas or wood and are significantly safer and more efficient than standard fireplaces.
FLASHING: The material that seals the gap between the exterior roof and chimney to prevent water from running down into the home. Flashing also is found on roof valleys to channel water.
FLUE: The inner passage inside a chimney used to draft smoke and gasses. Technically not a “chimney” but rather part of it.
MASONRY CHIMNEY: The most common chimney style, built of bricks and mortar. Masonry chimneys are constructed by hand, differentiating them from other types of chimneys that are made in a factory.
MASONRY FIREPLACE: Refers to the “standard” fireplace built into a wall using bricks, stone or other materials.
PELLETS: Small nuggets made of sawdust or other wood refuse that are used by some fireplaces, inserts and stoves.
SMOKE CHAMBER: The area just above the fireplace and smoke shelf and below the bottom of the flue.
SMOKE CHAMBER PARGING: The process of adding a layer of mortar to the chamber to allow smoke to draft more smoothly. Most smoke chambers need this service periodically.
SMOKE SHELF: The area between the smoke chamber and firebox.
SOOT: Powdery carbon particles created during combustion, particularly when the fuel burns only partially.
THROAT: The area just above the firebox into which smoke and gasses enter. Dampers located here are called “throat dampers.”
VIDEO SCAN: Technology used to inspect the inside of the chimney flue and other hard-to-access areas. Chimney sweeps use video scans to detect otherwise unseen flue or liner damage.
High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, presents this concise glossary of chimney and fireplace terms to help you know more about the parts and structures that make up your system. When that system needs cleaning, inspections or repairs, count on the certified chimney sweeps at High’s to get the job done right the first time. Reach us at (301) 519-3500.