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The Parts that Keep Your Fireplace Safe and Functional

Chimneys can be a beautiful addition to any home, but it isn’t as simple as cutting a hole in your roof and installing an exhaust pipe. In truth, contemporary fireplaces have a number of features that help keep your home warm as well as:

  • preventing insects and wildlife from entering your home,
  • retaining desired indoor temperature and preventing downdrafts,
  • reducing energy costs and effectively venting smoke via an internal backdraft damper,
  • keeping rain and snow from entering the flue. 

A failure in any of these parts may result in the introduction of carbon monoxide into the home as well as obstructions within the flue such as birds nests and other debris, which can lead to fire within the chimney.

In order to get the most out of your chimney, it is important to understand both proper maintenance of your fireplace as well as all of the parts that allow it to perform its primary function safely and effectively.

Chimney Cap

Terminating at the top of the chimney crown, the chimney cap allows smoke to escape into the outdoor environment, preventing the buildup of carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases in the home. Chimney caps also keep critters like squirrels and birds from making nests inside your chimney.

It is recommended to clean creosote buildup in your chimney once a year in spring, which is also a great time to check your chimney cap. If a chimney cap replacement is needed, remove the creosote buildup first, then install your new chimney cap.


Located below the chimney cap, the flue is designed to direct the smoke up and away from the firebox. It is the last point of contact within the chimney and needs to be cleared of excess creosote buildup to extend the life of the chimney cap.


A fireplace damper, when opened, allows smoke to move up the chimney. When closed, the flue helps maintain your desired indoor temperature by keeping heat or cooled air inside. Dampers are typically closed during the summer months or when the fireplace is not in use.


This is where your fire resides while the fireplace is in use. Be sure to periodically remove creosote buildup using a hard bristle brush and cleaning solution to extend the life of your chimney’s internal parts.

Ash Pit

Not all fireplaces come with this and require the user to sweep out the ashes manually, but for those that do, the ash pit is a chamber located underneath the firebox that stores the ashes for later disposal. These pits are typically accessed from outside and need to be cleaned out regularly depending on use. Ash can also be repurposed for home and garden use by serving as a garden growth booster, bug repellant, and other uses.

How FAMCO Can Help

FAMCO is one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of HVAC equipment in the Pacific Northwest. We are based in Meridian, Idaho, and have a wide variety of chimney caps, dampers, and other chimney accessories to suit any need, budget, or aesthetic.

To see how FAMCO can help you get the most out of your chimney, please get in touch with us. We’ll be more than happy to help.

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