Fireplace Anatomy Explained – Know Your Fireplace to the Inch – 2023 Guide

Understanding your fireplace and how it works to the maximum capacity starts with understanding the Fireplace anatomy, and taking a closer look at the fireplace components.

Whether you’re going to use wood or gas to light up your fireplace, understanding the fireplace anatomy and how it’s built will ease your way into dealing more efficiently with your heating system.

In this WarmthPedia guide, we’ll explain different parts of fireplace, and how each of the fireplace components works, and whenever there’s a fix required, we’ll provide you with the most suitable one.

But before you start, here are some of the most important facts about the fireplace anatomy.

Facts to Understand Before Explaining Fireplace Anatomy

Before we dive into explaining different parts of fireplace, here are some of the most basic facts regarding fireplace components that’ll help you understand the fireplace anatomy easier.

Those facts are:

Fireplaces are created by a handful of different but connected parts, each part doing a specific job.

If a fireplace doesn’t contain a chimney to exhaust the smoke created by fire, it won’t function properly at all.

If one of the parts of fireplace fails to function properly, then the whole system may collapse, or at best a single feature will be fully missing.

Fireplace Components

In this WarmthPedia guide, we’ll focus primarily on masonry fireplaces and breaking down the fireplace components, creating the whole heating system.

Therefore, fireplaces usually consist of:

1. Chimney Cap

2. Chimney Crown

3. Flue Tile

4. Mortar Joint

5. Smoke Chamber

6. Damper

7. Smoke Shelf

8. Face Brick

9. Lintel

10. Fire Box

11. Hearth Extension

Fireplace Anatomy

Here’s a breakdown of every piece of fireplace components, as you’d have to imagine the fireplace as a human body, and we’ll break it down like breaking down every part of this body.

Fireplace Anatomy

1. Chimney Cap

The chimney cap can be found at the top of every chimney, and it’s labeled with the number (1) at the top.

It has a single job of protecting the chimney and fireplace against rain, animals, and any kind of debris.

Allowing such intruders into the heating system can cause a lot of trouble.

2. Chimney Crown

The chimney crown joins the cap in protecting against animals and debris.

Moreover, it stops cold air from coming down to your chimney, while working as an additional protective layer against the rain.

However, the difference is that the crown is made from different materials, while the cap is only made of metal.

3. Flue Tile

The flue tile is responsible for carrying the exhaust outdoors from your fireplace.

In other words, it represents an internal passage inside the chimney that’s essential for the movement of smoke and air.

The problem with flue tile is that it requires proper maintenance constantly.

Any defective part of that flue tile will disrupt the heat flow in and out of the chimney.

4. Mortar Joint

Chimney’s outer walls are made of both mortar and bricks.

Similar to the flue tile, the mortar joint may be damaged if not properly maintained, and the easiest way to maintain it is to make sure it’s creating it from high-quality refractory materials.

If not, it’ll decay fast, due to the constant rainwater coming down into the chimney, as it’s created by low-quality materials.

5. Smoke Chamber

The smoke chamber is usually created in a pyramid shape, and its main goal is compressing byproducts from the fire before they move up the chimney.

In the meantime, it also provides a passageway between the firebox (we’ll explain its job later) and the beginning of the fireplace’s chimney liner.

What’s special about the smoke chamber is that it’s made at an inward angle to continue to funnel the flow of the smoke up into the chimney.

6. Damper

The damper is a plate created by fire-resistant materials (ceramic or metal), and sits above the firebox to control the draft of an open fireplace.

It also covers the entire internal area of the chimney.

Sometimes you can find the damper located at the very top of the chimney, but it’s usually found within the throat of the chimney.

7. Smoke Shelf

Down to the base of the smoke chamber, you’ll find the smoke shelf.

Its main goal is to help prevent any back-drafting of any kind down into the firebox.

In other words, it is created in a way that its horizontal surface will prevent water and debris from landing in the firebox, regardless of how they found their way into that area.

8. Face Brick

The face bricks are external fireplace components, which means you can visibly notice them without needing to go inside the chimney.

It’s located around the fireplace’s opening, one of a few parts that found their way into the outside of the chimney.

9. Lintel

The lintel is a horizontal area separating the fireplace opening and the damper.

It can be found at the top of the firebox, by inserting your hand into the top of its opening.

The main task lintel does is support the chimney.

10. Firebox

It’s what you see, what works, what provides heat, and what houses the fire you ignite.

The firebox houses your fire, as you build the fire and burn the fuel there.

It’s mostly constructed with 3 walls and a floor.

You may have already noticed that it’s either square or rectangular-shaped, so it goes without saying.

11. Hearth Extension

The Hearth extension is the area extending in front of the hearth for protection purposes.

It’s mainly made of materials not susceptible to embers or flames, as a protection for the area around the fireplace.

Fireplace Anatomy FAQ

Fan of podcasts? here’s a podcast breaking down every single fireplace components:


If you came here looking for detailed fireplace anatomy breaking down, then you have certainly reached your goal with us at WarmthPedia.

In case you’d like further explanation of any of the different parts of fireplace, feel free to ask us about any of the fireplace components, and we’ll provide more insight on it as soon as possible.

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