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The Anatomy of a Masonry Chimney

Image courtesy of Rudi Oosting of Oosting Masonry Construction

Image courtesy of Rudi Oosting of Oosting Masonry Construction

If you have a masonry fireplace, many important parts make up the anatomy of its chimney. Many homeowners are unfamiliar with these parts and their functions, and when something goes wrong, it can be invaluable to know the names of each part and what these parts do. As part of our duties as Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps, we at Aelite Chimney Specialties enjoy educating our customers about their fireplace and chimney systems. We would like to tell you the names of each part of the anatomy of a masonry chimney and explain what exactly each part does to keep your fireplace working safely.

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

MORTAR CROWN — Also called a chimney crown, this part sits on top of the chimney to prevent water penetration of the bricks and mortar as well as water leaking 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 — An extremely crucial 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 Aelite Chimney Specialties to ask our staff whatever you need to know about the parts of your chimney.

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All About Chimney Liners

According to the CSIA, problems in your chimney’s flue can pose serious risks to your home and family, as it’s no longer able to perform its primary function: to safely contain and vent the products of combustion to the outside of your home.

Give Aelite Chimney Specialties a call at 815-363-1242 to schedule an inspection to ensure your flue liner is in tip top shape!

Give Aelite Chimney Specialties a call at 815-363-1242 to schedule an inspection to ensure your flue liner is in tip top shape!


Chimney Inspection Levels

Levels of Chimney Inspection

Having a fire inside a home or any enclosed space is dangerous due to the fire and smoke hazards to the building and personal health. It is good to know the inspection procedures and levels of inspection performed by chimney professionals. There are three levels of inspection when it comes to inspecting chimneys according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). Inspection is done to ensure safety of fireplace and chimney operation, but the procedures of the inspection become more in depth and involved with each level of inspection.

A certified chimney sweep checks several vital parts of your chimney to ensure safety.

A certified chimney sweep checks several vital parts of your chimney to ensure safety.

Level 1

Level 1 inspection is the most basic inspection of a chimney, but there is nothing basic about it. Routinely, a level 1 inspection will be conducted during annual evaluations and/or cleaning or sweeping and if the system is being maintained. The Level 1 inspection is limited to accessible portions of the fireplace/appliance and the chimney venting system. The flue is inspected to ensure proper operation and is free from blockage or restriction. This type of inspection is the most routine and if a chimney professional sees something not consistent for proper use can lead to a more detailed Level 2 inspection.

Level 2

A Level 2 inspection is routinely carried out when the use of the system is changing, when there was damage to the system, before a flue relining, or when a Level 1 inspection reveals the need a closer look. This type of inspection is also typical during the home inspection when buying or selling a home to protect the buyer and seller of chimney operation and if any repairs may be necessary. Level 2 inspection includes everything in Level 1 inspection, but other more inaccessible areas are inspected that might include the roof, the crawlspace, attics, basements, etc. Level 2 inspection will also include a video scanning of the chimney system and flue to reveal potential problems or issues. No property will be disturbed or destroyed while performing a Level 2 inspection.

Level 3

A Level 3 inspection must include both Level 1 and Level 2 inspection, but occurs only when Level 2 cannot reveal adequate information about the system to the chimney inspector. In these rare cases, parts of the system must be destroyed to gain access to these concealed areas that cannot be gained by other means.