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Anatomy of a Fireplace

While there are differences among the various types of fireplaces, there are several common parts. An understanding of the basic terminology will help make your fireplace both safer and more enjoyable.


Ash Dump Door — A metal door located in the inner hearth of some fireplaces, which leads to an ash pit.

Ash Pit — A cavity underneath a fireplace firebox, used as a receptacle for ashes, and accessible for cleanout by means of a cleanout door.

Ash Pit Cleanout Door — A metal door located at the base of the chimney which leads to the ash pit, facilitating cleanout of the ash pit.

Damper — A plate or valve that closes the fireplace flue when the fireplace is not in use. You must fully open it before lighting the fire.

Fireback — The rear wall of the firebox.

Firebox — This is where you build the fire.

Flue — The vertical passageway up the inside of the chimney.

Inner Hearth — The floor of the fireplace, inside the opening.

Outer Hearth — This is the technical term for what is usually called the hearth. It is the part of the hearth that extends out into the room, beyond the fireplace opening.

Smoke Chamber — The space above the throat of the fireplace leading up to the flue.

Throat Damper — A damper located in the throat of the fireplace, just above the firebox. This is the kind found in most fireplaces, and is operated by means of either a handle inside the firebox or a knob above the fireplace opening connected to a rotating metal shaft attached to the damper.

Top-sealing Damper — The floor of the fireplace, inside the opening.