The Parts Of A Fireplace & Chimney Explained

As fireplaces come in a range of sizes, forms, and styles, we have created this article breaking down all the common fireplace components to explain the many fireplace and chimney components existing in your home.

The Parts Of A Fireplace & Chimney Explained


The fundamental component of a fireplace where the fire is created is the firebox. It is rectangular or square and surrounded by fire-resistant materials such as firebricks.

In certain fireplaces, a damper (see also ‘What Is A Fireplace Damper?‘) is positioned at the bottom of the firebox, in the chimney throat.

The fireplace opening is the front of the firebox, where glass doors or a fireplace screen might be attached.


The hearth is located at the base of the fireplace. It forms the bottom of the firebox and extends in both directions into the chamber. It’s what a fire is built on or what a fireplace grate rests on, and it protects your home’s flooring from fire heat.

The inner fireplace refers to the fireplace contained within the firebox, whereas the outer fireplace refers to the platform that extends into the room.

Since a fireplace must survive high temperatures, it must be made of noncombustible materials. Granite, stone, ceramic, marble, brick, concrete, and quarry tiles are common hearth materials.

All fireplaces that burn solid fuel must have a hearth, and the size and depth of the hearth must adhere to local building laws and requirements.

A fireplace screen is placed on the hearth to prevent hot embers from entering the room.

Fireplace Face

The fireplace face is the protruding section surrounding the fireplace opening that projects into the room.

Similar to the fireplace and firebox, it is also constructed of an ignitable material. The front of the fireplace in our living room is made of the same material as the hearth: concrete. The coating is black to match the firebox.

Instead of a face, a fireplace may feature a fireplace surround.



A fireplace surround is similar to a fireplace’s face, however, it is usually a decorative element. It can be found encircling the opening of a fireplace, however, it is often not a noncombustible material like the face.

Back Panel

The rear panel of the fireplace is located between the fireplace’s entrance and its surround. It may be used to enhance the fireplace’s design by complementing the appearance of the hearth.


The mantel sits atop the fireplace surrounding or in front of an open fireplace.

The mantel provides a shelf for displaying ornaments and other items, but it can also prevent fireplace smoke from entering the room.

The mantel in our living room is made of concrete, but the mantel I removed from the fireplace surround in our kitchen was constructed of wood.


The lintel is situated between the chimney throat and the fireplace surround, above the firebox. Its principal role is structural, helping to disperse the weight of the chimney breast across the fireplace’s sides.

Chimney Throat

The chimney’s throat is located at the intersection of the chimney and the fireplace, at the chimney’s base, and atop the firebox.

In the majority of fireplaces, a damper is located in the throat of the chimney.



If a fireplace has a damper, it is often located in the throat of the chimney, although it can also be placed at the very top.

A throat damper is a plate made of fire-resistant material, such as metal or ceramic, that covers the whole inside of the chimney and fits right above the firebox.

A throat damper may be manually opened or closed using a handle or lever to prevent the loss of warm air from home while the fireplace is not in use.

Additionally, it may be used to close the chimney to reduce the draught from the fireplace.

If your top-mounted damper is located at the top of the chimney, a chain may swing down into the fireplace and be used to open and close the damper.

The damper must be opened before lighting a fire, or smoke will enter the residence instead of ascending the chimney.


A chimney allows smoke and gases to safely flow from a fireplace and exit a dwelling.

The chimney ascends vertically from the top of the fireplace through the home’s roof. For the fireplace to function properly, the chimney must reach a certain distance above the home’s roof.

The inner diameter of the fireplace, the height of the chimney, and the size of the firebox and entry must be decided to construct an effective fireplace.

Chimney Cap

The cap is positioned at the chimney’s peak and acts as its roof. Its main purpose is to prevent wet weather, animals, and debris from entering the fireplace through the chimney.

Chimney Crown

The crown is located adjacent to the chimney cap at the top of the chimney and helps to protect the contents within the chimney from the weather.

The crown keeps the chimney’s interior dry by deflecting water away from it.



The internal conduit of the chimney is known as the flue.

The flue can be lined with a heat-resistant material, such as clay or ceramic, which protects the chimney structure from both moisture and the heat of the rising gases of a fire.

Glass Doors

Occasionally, glass doors are incorporated into the aperture of a classic fireplace.

Comparable to a damper, glass doors can limit heat loss from an unoccupied fireplace.

When a fire is present, the US Fire Administration (USFA) advises that fireplace glass doors be maintained open at all times.

Ash Pit

An ash pit can be placed beneath a fireplace to collect and store ash for later use. Our fireplace lacks an ashtray, however, ash may be sometimes removed via a clean-out door in the basement.

Using an ash dump, the firebox’s ash falls into the ash pit.

Smoke Chamber

The smoke chamber is located just above the throat of the chimney and any throat dampers.

Before ascending the chimney, combustion byproducts are compressed in the smoke chamber.

Smoke Shelf

The smoke shelf prevents backdrafts from entering the firebox.

Additionally, the smoke shelf collects any water or debris that makes its way down the chimney and protects the firebox.

Stevie Morris
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