From the outside, your chimney looks like little more than a brick tube jutting out from your roof. Actually, depending on the construction specifications of your chimney, it might have more than 20 discrete components, each of which are important and could cause problems should they stop working. And, though masonry can last a lifetime, it requires regular maintenance and upkeep. This is especially true of masonry chimneys, which take a heat beating with regular use and are more exposed to the elements than other masonry components. Keep reading to learn from the top down what some of the major components of your chimney do and the care they need through the years.
*image from wikipedia
A chimney cap is a metal cap installed to the very top of a chimney. A cap keeps precipitation from driving straight down the flue, which can wear out flue lining and degrade masonry. Most caps will also keep out curious critters, which are, at best, an alarming problem to confront, as well as wind and other debris.
Chimney crowns sit atop masonry chimney flues and a crucial defense against the elements. They direct water out and away from the the chimney and also act as a seal to the masonry beneath them. Without a properly installed and maintained cap, water can seep into masonry and mortar. Even the smallest amount of water can lead to brick flaking, mortar damage, and salt staining.
Flues are the passageways that direct all the smoke, gas and ash from your fireplace up and out of your home. A flue can be a duct, pipe, vent, or masonry chimney.
Though, still a flue without one, an unlined flue is incredibly dangerous. Flue lining is typically made of specialized tiles or stainless steel and prevents the accumulation flammable debris. An absent or poorly installed liner can lead to chimney fires.
Between the firebox and flue, a smoke chamber’s sloped walls gently compresses the byproducts of combustion into a smaller space without creating a backdraft.
Dampers are lever or pulley operated doors situated between firebox and smoke chamber or at the very top of a chimney. When not using your chimney, the damper seals it off to prevent energy loss and the intrusion of animals and precipitation.
Understanding how your chimney works is a great first step in learning how to properly maintain it. Powers CM can help you with repairs for any of the chimney components listed above.