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Helpful Fireplace & Chimney Terminology

Terminology in the hearth industry can be a little confusing sometimes. Here are some words and terms related to fireplaces, chimneys and chimney services that will be helpful for you to know.

Fireplace & chimney structure terms

Prefab fireplace: A fireplace built in a factory.

Fireplace insert: A factory-made appliance that fits into the firebox of a masonry fireplace. Can run on gas, wood or pellet fuel.

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Masonry fireplace: A traditional fireplace is constructed of masonry. A masonry fireplace is usually built on-site when the home is built.

Firebox: The area within a fireplace, heating stove or fireplace insert where fuel is burned to create heat.

Ash dump: A depository behind some fireboxes into which ashes can be pushed.

Chimney: The (usually) brick structure that houses the chimney flue and carries smoke from fireplace out.

Chimney flue: The area inside the chimney through which smoke travels.

Flue liner: A protective sheath inside the flue, commonly made from stainless steel, clay tiles or a poured-in-place compound. Liners protect the interior masonry and keep dangerous combustion gases from spreading into the home.

Smoke chamber: Located just above the firebox, the smoke chamber is an area where smoke and heat mix before going up into the flue.

Fireplace damper: A plated device located above the firebox or at the top of the chimney. Dampers must be open during fireplace use and should be closed at other times to prevent an exchange of air between the home and the outside.

Chimney cap: A protective cover at the top of the chimney that keeps water and animals out of the flue. Full-width caps also protect the chimney crown. (Flue covers are smaller and cover only the flue opening.)

Chimney crown: Also located at the top of the chimney, the crown is a beveled concrete slab that covers the inner flue area and the chimney’s uppermost bricks.

Hearth: The foundation beneath a firebox/fireplace. Hearths are made of special bricks and mortar and can extend outward to the sides or in front of the fireplace.

Hearth area: Usually refers to the overall fireplace area including the mantel, the fireplace surround, the brick hearth and the fireplace itself.

Functionality and maintenance terms

chimney sweep, pembroke maChimney sweep (1): A chimney sweep is a trained individual who cleans creosote and debris from chimney flues. Sweeps often also perform inspections and repairs as well.

Chimney sweep (2): Chimney sweep (chimney sweeping) is the process of cleaning a chimney flue. “Sweep” and “cleaning” are generally interchangeable.

Downdraft: Air blowing from the outside down the flue and into the firebox, typically caused by lack of draft air within the home, cold air inside the flue or a damaged or missing chimney cap.

Fuel: Common fireplace and stove fuels include natural gas/propane, wood and pellets.

Seasoned firewood: Wood that has lost most of its moisture and burns much more easily with less smoke than damp, unseasoned wood.

Tuckpointing: A process in which a technician scrapes out decayed sections of mortar within the chimney’s masonry and replaces them with a strong new compound.

Smoke chamber parging: The smoothing out of the surfaces of the smoke chamber. Rough surfaces can collect flammable creosote and impair the drafting of smoke.

Keep your chimney safe and efficient

Above & Beyond Chimney Service of Dedham, MA, provides certified chimney sweeping, fireplace and chimney inspections and chimney repair and rebuilding throughout the Massachusetts South Shore region. Call us today at (781) 383-0415.