Fireplaces come in different sizes, shapes and designs, and so I’ve put together this fireplace components guide to explain the different parts of a fireplace and chimney that can be found in your home.
I’ve also put together a diagram showing the different parts of a fireplace and chimney from a side on view, showing you the whole picture of what happens when you have a fire in your traditional open fireplace.
I have two open fireplaces in my home, one of which used to have a fireplace insert, and so I’ve also explained each part in further detail using my own fireplaces as examples.
Parts Of A Fireplace Diagram
Below is a diagram of a typical fireplace and chimney:
The diagram shows the layout of a fireplace and chimney commonly found in a home, but as all houses are built differently the layout and design of your fireplace may differ from the one shown above. For example, my open fireplaces don’t have dampers or ash pits.
Anatomy Of A Fireplace (Labeled)
The images below highlight the parts of my own fireplaces located in my living room and kitchen, showing each part clearly labeled for clarity.
The firebox is the main part of the fireplace where the fire is built. It’s usually rectangular or square in shape, and is surround by fireproof materials such as firebricks.
The firebox in my living room fireplace is made of brick that is painted black to suit the other parts of the fireplace.
At the base of the firebox is the hearth, and at the top of the firebox is the throat of the chimney, where a damper can be found in some fireplaces.
The front of the firebox is called the fireplace opening, where glass doors can sometimes be found, or where a fireplace screen would be located.
The hearth is located at the base of the fireplace. It forms the base of the firebox and extends out into the room, both length ways and width ways. It’s what the fire is built on or on which a fireplace grate is placed, and helps protect the floor of your home from the heat of a fire.
The hearth inside the firebox can sometimes be referred to as the inner hearth, while the platform that extends out into the room can be referred to as the outer hearth. The outer hearth helps protect the room from any hot embers that spit from the fire, and a screen can be placed on the outer hearth to further prevent anything hot from getting into the room.
As a hearth has to deal with high temperatures, it so also needs to be made from non-combustible materials. Common materials used as a hearth include granite, marble, stone, concrete, brick, ceramic and quarry tiles.
All solid fuel burning fireplaces are required to have a hearth, and the size and depth of a hearth must comply with your local building regulations and code.
We have two open fireplaces in our home, and one of the hearths is made from granite, while the other hearth is made from concrete.
A fireplace screen is placed onto the hearth to help prevent any hot embers from getting into the room. Read more about fireplace screens here.
You can also read my complete guide to fireplace hearths, including examples of materials used as hearths, and regulations for sizes and depths.
The fireplace face is located around the opening of the fireplace and is the part sticks out into the room.
Similarly to the hearth and firebox, it’s also made from a non-combustible material. The face of our living room fireplace is made from concrete; the same material used for the hearth. It has been painted black to match the firebox.
A fireplace surround may be found on a fireplace instead of a face.
A fireplace surround is similar to the face of a fireplace, but is usually more of a decorative feature. It can be found around the opening of a fireplace, but isn’t always found as a non-combustible material like the face of a fireplace.
Before redecorating our kitchen, there was a gas insert in the kitchen fireplace with a wooden fireplace surround. I’ve since taken the fireplace surround and gas fireplace insert out, but you can see pictures of what our wooden fireplace looks like below.
To learn more about fireplace surrounds, as well as see what they look like from behind, click here.
The fireplace back panel is located between the opening of the fireplace and the surround. It can be used to compliment the look of the hearth to improve the design of the fireplace.
Here’s an image of the cast iron back panel I removed from my kitchen fireplace:
You can see what a back panel looks like in more detail here.
The mantel is located at the top of the fireplace surround, or top of the face of an open fireplace.
The mantel provides a shelf on which decorations and other items can be placed, but can sometimes help with preventing smoke from the fire from coming into the room.
The mantel in our living room is made from concrete, while the mantel of the fireplace surround I removed from our kitchen is made of wood.
The lintel is located at the top of the firebox, between the throat of the chimney and the fireplace surround. Its main purpose is structural, and helps spread the load of the chimneybreast across the sides of the fireplace.
Here’s what the lintel looks like in our living room fireplace.
The throat of the chimney is located at the intersection between the chimney and the fireplace, at the base of the chimney and at the top of the firebox.
Below is a picture of me looking up into the throat of the chimney from our living room fireplace.
In many fireplaces, a damper can be found located within the throat of the chimney.
If a fireplace has a damper, it’s typically found within the throat of the chimney, but can also be found located at the very top.
A throat damper is a plate made from a fire resistant material such as metal or ceramic and sits just above the firebox, covering the entire internal area of the chimney.
A throat damper can be manually opened or closed using a handle or lever, and helps to prevent loss of warm air from a home when the fireplace isn’t being used. It may also be used to reduce the draft on the fireplace from the chimney by closing it down.
If you have a top-mounted damper that’s located at the top of the chimney, you’re likely to have a chain that hangs down into the fireplace which can be used to open and close the damper.
The damper must be open before a fire is started or smoke will come into the house rather than up the chimney.
For more information on fireplace dampers, I’ve put together the complete guide to dampers right here.
A chimney provides a safe passageway for waste smoke and gases from a fire to leave the fireplace and be removed from a home.
The chimney starts at the top of the firebox and extends vertically through the roof of the house. The chimney must protrude a certain distance above the roofline of the house to ensure sufficient draw on the fireplace.
The internal diameter of the fireplace must be designed along with the height of the chimney, and the size of the firebox and opening of the fireplace to provide an efficiently operating fireplace.
The cap is located at the very top of the chimney and acts as a roof to the chimney. Its main purpose is to help prevent wet weather, animals and debris from making their way down the chimney and into the fireplace.
Like ours, not all chimneys have a cap, but can be installed by a professional.
The crown is located at the top of the chimney alongside the chimney cap, and helps to protect the materials used within chimney from the weather.
The crown helps keep the inside of the chimney moisture free by diverting water away from the chimney.
The internal passageway of the chimney can be known as the flue.
The flue can be lined with a heat resistant material such as clay or ceramic, and protects the structure of the chimney from both moisture and the heat of the rising gases from a fire.
Traditional fireplaces can sometimes be found with glass doors located on the opening of a fireplace.
Much like a damper, glass doors can help to prevent heat loss from a home when the fireplace isn’t in use.
It’s recommended by the US Fire Administration (USFA) that fireplace glass doors should always be open when having a fire.
For more information on glass doors for fireplaces, check out my article explaining whether wood burning fireplaces need glass doors, and what purpose they serve.
An ash pit may be found underneath a fireplace, in which ash falls into to be stored and collected for later use. Not all fireplaces will have an ash pit (ours don’t), but the ash can sometimes be removed from a basement through a clean-out door.
Ash falls down from the firebox into the ash pit through an ash dump.
The smoke chamber is located just above the throat of the chimney, and above any throat damper.
The smoke chamber helps to compress byproducts from a fire before moving further up the chimney.
The smoke shelf is located at the base of the smoke chamber, and helps to prevent backdrafts down into the firebox.
The smoke shelf also collects and helps to protect the firebox from any water or debris that makes its way down the chimney.
Very helpful, thank you.
Simple, short and understandable. Well written!
Thanks for creating this website. I found it very helpful – well written and well illustrated. One suggestion. Because many homeowners have converted their wood-burning fireplaces to gas logs, I think it would be useful if you could highlight anything unique to using natural gas.
Excellent Information on the anatomy of a fireplace. Appreciate you taking the time to share this valuable information.
Enjoyable reading. Thank you for educating me on this subject. Explained very well and extremely helpful. Well done.
Thanks for this! Helped me figure out a way to save our young cat that got trapped behind the firebox.
The description and illustrations have helped me.
Thanks, very clear and useful!
Super helpful and clear, both the diagrams and the words — thank you very much.
Very helpful indeed , to see the anatomy of the fireplace and hearth. And to see the function of each component . Makes a huge difference to understand ALL the parts .
Thank very much on the information on fireplace and its related parts. This is so helpful.
I learned a lot! Thank you!
Very informative, thanks.
Very good article on fireplaces. I’ve built one before like 40 years ago. I needed this to refresh my old memory. Thank you so much, this really helps.