Chimney Components Anatomy Image - Harrisonburg VA - Old Dominion ChimneysThe vision of curling up in front of a crackling fire is one that many people share. But when it comes to actually knowing how a fireplace works, a lot of people can’t go into much detail. It’s important for a fireplace owner to know what the chimney and fireplace system is made up of and how these parts work so that he can be on the lookout for any problems that might arise.

Some parts of the fireplace are obvious – and some are not. That’s part of the reason that it’s so important to have a certified chimney inspector come in on an annual basis and inspect your chimney – there are things that someone without knowledge of a fireplace and chimney system won’t be able to see. According to, these are the parts of the fireplace system:

Visible Parts

  • the hearth: this is the part of the fireplace that comes out beyond the fireplace. It’s made of a fireproof material
  • the surround: offers protection for the walls around the fireplace, and is often topped by a decorative mantle
  • the firebox: where you build the fire

Interior Parts

  • flue: this is the passageway that the smoke and fire gases travel through to get out of the house – it’s located on the inside of your chimney
  • smoke chamber: this connects the fireplace to the flue
  • smoke shelf: located at the bottom of the smoke chamber, this prevents precipitation from dripping into the fireplace
  • damper: this movable part can be opened and closed to stop the cold, outside air from flowing down the chimney into your house
  • chimney cap: this keeps precipitation and even animals from getting down the chimney
  • fireplace doors: metal or glass doors shut off air flow when the fire is dying or there is no fire

Prefab or Masonry

The Chimney Safety Institute of America differentiates between a prefab fireplace and a masonry fireplace. Masonry fireplaces are made of brick or block, or sometimes even stone, bonded together with mortar. This type of fireplace is very durable, yet still needs proper care to keep it up and running efficiently and effectively. The freeze/thaw cycle can be especially hard on a mortar fireplace, which is one reason that an annual inspection is so important.

Prefab fireplaces are a more recent addition to the fireplace market. Most of these are built of metal, and come as a complete unit from the factory. The fireplace and the chimney units come together and are listed specifically for use with each other. The installation of the prefab unit must be done to specification in order to work correctly. They are tested and listed as decorative heating units and can’t withstand the wear that masonry chimneys can, but nonetheless, if maintained on a yearly basis these units can give many years of enjoyment to your family.

Quality Care

It’s important to have your fireplace system inspected and maintained by a quality chimney service like Old Dominion Chimneys  Call today to set up your chimney inspection 540-434-0888.