Masonry Chimney

A chimney flue is the passageway inside the chimney that the smoke, heat and gases travel through before exhausting to the outside. It is important that the chimney flue be well insulated with an adequate lining material since it can be exposed to very high temperatures--especially in the case of a chimney fire. A masonry chimney is constructed of brick or stone (don't be confused by a chimney that has a brick or stone fa├žade).

Like other parts of your home, chimneys and fireplaces require some maintenance, inspections and occasional repairs. Using a professional chimney sweep will assure that your chimney has been fixed or cleaned properly and safely. See the diagram below and read the descriptions of the chimney, how the parts work together and some of the maintenance and repairs chimneys require.

In matters of fire safety the best way to assure your safety is to have a professional chimney sweep inspect your chimney. The diagram and explanations here are to help you know when to call the chimney sweep and to understand the work the chimney sweep is performing.

Masonry Chimney Diagram

A masonry chimney begins with the fire box. This is the box in the fireplace inside your home where you build a fire. The firebox is where the chimney sweep begins the chimney inspection and where the chimney sweep cleans the chimney from. Just above the fire box is the chimney's damper. The damper is like a door between your fireplace and your chimney flue that you open when you have a fire to let the smoke escape and close when you're done to keep out the elements and to keep in your heating and air-conditioning. It is smart to have a chimney sweep inspect your damper to make sure it is not costing you money. Just above the damper and above the fireplace is the chimney's smoke chamber and the chimney's smoke shelf. The smoke is pulled into the smoke chamber by the natural draw of the chimney from the fire box where it rolls against the smoke shelf, gains momentum and increases the chimney's draw. Then the smoke travels up the chimney flue. The chimney flue is the pipe that goes from the firebox to the top of the chimney and it is the path the smoke takes to exit the house. Its the smoke that distributes the soot in the chimney flue and this is what the chimney sweep brushes out when you have your chimney cleaned. You should have your chimney cleaned once a year by a chimney sweep to prevent fires in the chimney flue. A chimney fire in the flue can lead to expensive repairs or worse, a house fire. The chimney flue is built of brick and lined with large terra cotta flue tiles. These tiles keep the smoke and heat from seeping through the porous brick mortar and into your walls. If your chimney is missing these flue tiles, and several older chimneys are, then it is recommended that you not burn in your fireplace until you have the chimney relined. A chimney sweep will be able to tell if you need a reline during a regular chimney inspection. The chimney flue is topped with a chimney cap. The chimney cap protects the flue and keeps the elements out. The chimney cap also helps to keep any unwelcomed visitors from entering into your home. The chimney cap has a spark arrestor on top that keeps embers from landing on your roof or in your foliage. The chimney cap is also sometimes referred to as a spark arrestor, termination cap or rain cap. All these terms are correct. The difference between these cap names is some are only for a certain function e.g. rain cap may only have a cover to prevent rain from entering the chimney flue but not preventing the ambers from exiting the chimney. Where a spark arrestor may only have the screen to prevent ambers from exiting the chimney flue but allowing rain to enter the chimney flue causing damage. Some home owners will try and fabricate a chimney cap. The chimney caps should be a certain dimensions and measurements. If the chimney cap has the wrong dimensions and measurements it could create disastrous results e.g. causing the chimney to over heat damaging the flue liner allowing extreme heat to be directed to areas of the home that can not withstand the heat or the chimney smoke to enter the living area of the home causing smoke damage. A very common chimney repair for masonry chimneys is the chimney cap has rusted or worse has blown away leaving the top of your chimney unprotected. Then rain is able to freely pour down the chimney erroding the mortar causing a dangerous situation. On the top exterior of the chimney is a crown that is built up to the chimney cap. The chimney's crown is made out of a type of mortar or cement and it's purpose is to keep water from sitting on the brick and to guide water down and away from the chimney cap and the chimney flue opening. A watertight crown is vital to the maintenance of your masonry chimney. If you have any questions about your masonry chimney you can Contact Us and we will be happy to answer your questions.

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(Source: CSIA

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