The Parts of a Fireplace: A User Guide

A fireplace is a wonderful piece of home heating equipment. It can be used to warm up the atmosphere in any room, and it provides a beautiful focal point for your living space. If you are considering installing one into your property, then you should know what goes into this type of project before making that decision.

With the cooler months approaching, many people are thinking about ways to keep their homes warm. This is why it’s important to know what parts make up a fireplace and how they work together. In this guide, you will learn about the different types of fireplaces, which type might be right for your home, and the benefits that come with each type.

Fireplace HearthIf you are looking for an affordable way to stay warm during these cold winter months then take some time now to read through this user guide!

What is a Fireplace?

A fireplace is a structure made of brick, stone, or metal designed to contain the fire. Fireplaces are used for the relaxing ambiance they provide as well as their functional ability to heat a room. There are two types of fireplaces: traditional and gas-burning units.

Parts Of A Fireplace

A fireplace is made up of several different parts. A traditional unit consists of the following:

The Hearth

The hearth, or floor, provides a level surface for fire tools and designates space in front that will not be burned by flying sparks. It also allows heat to rise into the room instead of going out through an open chimney.

People used to sit directly on this area when fires were kept burning constantly during cold weather months but modern homes have replaced it with more comfortable seating options which are easier to clean after use.

Fireplace HearthMost hearths are made from brick, stone, or metal depending on how much you want your fireplace to stand out aesthetically in your home. If you choose tile, slate, or marble as your material, you will probably need to hire a professional installer.

Back and Side Walls

The back wall is used to hold the firebox door in place so that it opens properly when needed for refueling or cleaning. The side walls are often made of brick, stone, or metal but can be decorated with tiles if desired. They provide additional protection from flying sparks and heat radiation while allowing airflow into the fireplace system.

If your unit has an opening on either end (most modern models do) they also perform this function by providing draft control which regulates airflow out through either one depending on how much steam needs to escape at any given time. Even though these openings provide ventilation, most units still come equipped with screens in case of embers accidentally pop out when you add fuel.


A firebox is a metal frame that holds the wood, gas, or oil that fuels the fireplace and allows it to be ignited. The interior walls of this unit are lined with refractory brick, cast iron, or steel to protect them from high temperatures while allowing heat transfer into your room. If these parts become damaged they will need replacing but most units come equipped with a door for easy access during cleaning so you do not have to take apart large pieces until needed.Fireplace Hearth

You can also choose from different designs including those which allow more airflow if desired as well as those designed specifically for installation through an exterior wall without compromising insulation levels inside your home. In some cases where there isn’t enough room for a full firebox, you can instead opt for an insert that will fit into the opening of your fireplace to save space.


A fireback is made from metal and often decorated with tiles, stone, or other materials which will not burn. It covers either part or all of the back wall to protect it from heat radiation while reflecting heat up into the room rather than letting it escape out through an open chimney.

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How to Build a Wood Box for Firewood?

If you plan on installing one make sure there is enough clearance above so that sparks do not land in between them when lighting your unit as well as below where they might fall onto combustible surfaces around areas like hearths or mantels if installed too high. You should also be aware that some units come equipped with optional heat deflectors which can be attached to your fireback instead of a full unit if desired.

Fire Doors

The function of this part is simple: it keeps the fire inside and drafts outside while you are trying to start or maintain one. Depending on its design, some fire doors will open automatically when needed so that there is no risk involved with burning yourself during fuel loading operations but they may also require manual opening to let out excess steam after lighting.

You should consider choosing one with an adjustable damper for easier control over airflow once heated as well as metal handles rather than wood ones since these parts get extremely hot during operation and cannot burn even though surrounding surfaces might.

Fire Grates

A grate is a frame that holds burning wood above the bottom while allowing airflow underneath for oxygen supply through holes between bars where embers can fall onto ash below if desired. These parts vary greatly by design, style, and material; many are made with cast iron but others might be steel, copper, chrome-plated brass, or zinc alloy instead.

When choosing one lookout for features like adjustable legs (for height control), hinged doors (to make adding fuel easier) as well as removable ones (for easy ash removal) as well as a powder coating which will help protect it from rust and corrosion.


This part is designed to absorb heat radiation emitted by the firebox while protecting surrounding areas from damage. They can be made with different materials including cast iron, steel, stone, or tile depending on your needs and they may also come in various shapes such as rectangles, triangles, ovals, or even swirl patterns if desired.

You should consider how much clearance you have above so that sparks don’t land between them when starting up but ensure there is enough below where they might fall onto combustible surfaces around hearths and mantles if installed too high. Some units come equipped with optional deflectors which attach to your grate instead of a full unit if desired.

Fireplace Face

The fireplace face is the front of the firebox, where you can insert logs for burning. A hearth surrounds it and provides a surface upon which to place items such as flower pots or picture frames. The mantelpiece rests on top of this surround. It is a narrow shelf that holds decorative items, such as candles and picture frames. The mantelpiece rests on top of the surround.


The surround is the decorative covering that you see when looking at a fireplace. It can be made out of metal, stone or tiles, and wood in some cases. Surrounds can come in different colors, depending on the material that they are made out of. Surrounds usually have a glass panel to protect them from heat damage and it is usually removable for easy cleaning.

One might ask why one would need such protection if the fireplace isn’t even being used? It’s because while you aren’t burning anything flames will still be present which means the surrounding materials could get hot enough to cause problems.


The mantel is the wood or stone covering your fireplace. It may be all one piece, like a granite surround where you can hang pictures in front of it, or it could have three separate pieces – two large shelves and a small shelf in between them for candles with space above to walk through.

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The lintel is the horizontal beam above your fireplace. It can be very ornate or fairly plain depending on what style you like and how much money you want to spend, but it’s always something that will definitely make a statement in any home.

Chimney Throat

The chimney throat is the top part of your fireplace that brings smoke from the fire up and out. In older homes, this may be a little metal plate at the very top of your firebox opening. The size of the throat should match the width or height of either your flue or damper. If your throat is too small, smoke will back up and could make the room you are in very smoky. If it’s too big, the heat won’t rise properly and may escape through the chimney instead of warming the house as it should.

The throat should have a cleanout door that allows for cleaning out any ash or creosote buildup that might occur from burning wood regularly. This can help avoid a fire hazard as well as provide for better efficiency overall.


The damper is located on the chimney near the top of your fireplace. This part regulates how much air flows into and out of your fire, allowing you to keep it burning for as long (or short) a time as desired.

The more open it is, the larger amount of warm air will be sucked up through your chimney; conversely, when closed completely this device can help prevent cold drafts from coming inside or allow smoke outside depending on its position.


The chimney is generally made from brick, metal, or stone. The fireplace must be connected to the chimney for smoke and fumes to escape through it. A firebox can either have a high opening that leads into the hearth area of your home or a low opening leading out towards another room inside your house. Some fireboxes don’t have a chimney at all and connect directly to the flue.

Chimney Cap

A chimney cap is used to cover the top of your flue. It helps prevent animals and debris from entering into them, which could lead to a fire hazard. A good rule of thumb for when you should replace this part is if it appears worn or cracked in any way. You can also check with a professional before replacing one yourself!

Chimney Crown

The chimney crown is located at the top of your flue. It’s a good idea to replace this part if it appears worn or cracked, but otherwise, you can clean them by hand using soap and water. You don’t want to use anything abrasive though, as that could cause damage!


The flue is a tube that runs through your chimney. It’s important to check this part regularly for any cracks or other damage, as it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning if not repaired!

Glass Doors

The glass doors on your fireplace are four main parts: the outer frame, the inside trim, and two pieces of glass. When you’re cleaning these all you need is mild soap and water to remove any smudges or dirt!

Ash Pit

The ash pit is a bowl in the bottom of your fireplace that holds any ashes from the fire. You need to clean this part regularly so debris doesn’t build up and block airflow, which can cause your fire to become inefficient!

Smoke Chamber

The smoke chamber is an extension of your main firebox. It gives the flames more room to burn and creates a better draft, making it easier for you to keep warm!

Smoke Shelf

The smoke shelf is a flat section of the chamber where the air is drawn in from below. It helps to produce more heat and improve your fireplace’s efficiency!

Maintenance and Safety tips

  • Regularly clean all parts of your fireplace to ensure they’re working at maximum efficiency.
  • Don’t burn rubbish or polystyrene in the fire, as it releases toxic fumes that can seriously harm you and any pets!
  • Make sure chimneys are cleaned every year by a professional service company like It’s generally recommended to get them done twice yearly if you use your fireplace regularly during cold months.
  • “Do not use water” for cleaning-using soap and warm water is fine but don’t add anything else! Use this schedule instead: Spring (March/April) – before using the heating system; Fall (October/November)- after shutting down the heating system, while flue is still warm; Winter- during active use.
  • “Do not burn rubbish or polystyrene in fire” as it releases toxic fumes that can harm you and your pets!
  • “Make sure chimneys are cleaned every year by a professional service company like .” It’s generally recommended to get them done twice yearly if you use your fireplace regularly during cold months.
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How to start a fire in your Fireplace

You’ll need newspaper, kindling (small dry sticks), and fuel logs/wood chunks depending on what you’ve chosen for your fireplace type! You can also use lighter cubes if that’s easier for you. Make sure any paper is free of ink or else it will produce toxic fumes when burned!

  • Don’t forget matches or a lighter as well-preferably one with a long handle so the heat doesn’t melt it, like this one. It helps to have some tinderboxes stocked in case something goes wrong too (they’re available at most supermarkets).
  • Step Two: Light Your Fire
  • Step Three: Stack Your Fuel

Put your kindling and tinder in first, followed by the fuel logs or wood chunks. Step Four: Enjoy!

Types of wood for starting Fires

Generally, softwoods like pine and spruce are the best for starting fires. These burn quickly but produce a good flame while they last (wood pellets also work well). Hardwoods like oak or maple work better in longer-burning stoves because they give off more heat once fully burned!

If you’re wondering about whether to use ash logs or another type of wood, check your owner’s manual–most say not to put anything other than hardwood into the firebox unless otherwise stated. Some types that don’t usually go directly onto the flames can be used as decoration instead though, so if you want to experiment with them ask an expert first!

Types of fuel you can use to start fires in your fireplace

  • Firewood: good for longer fires and stovetops, but not the best choice if you’re looking to start a fire quickly.
  • Birch logs: great starter fuel as they burn hot and fast!
  • “Logs” from sawdust/wood pieces-these are lightweight so work well in pellet stoves or log burners, especially those that have been preheated with kindling first (this helps them light more easily). They also produce less ash than wood chunks do. You can even make your own by putting offcuts of plywood through a chipper! Just be sure it’s kiln-dried beforehand because wet wood won’t burn properly at all.
  • Wood pellets made from compressed sawdust logs-they’re available at most hardware stores and are the best choice for pellet stoves.
  • Enviro pellets (choose these if you want to make your fireplace eco-friendly). They come in many different types, including cherry, apple/pear/plum, birch bark, oak leaf, nutshells, etc.!
  • “Logs” made from other materials like paper or straw can also be used as decoration instead of fuel but they don’t burn very well so aren’t recommended for starting fires unless you’ve got a flue specifically designed for it (like this one ). Using them directly on top of kindling is fine though because there’s no risk of toxic fumes being released.


The fireplace is a great place to stay warm and enjoy the company of friends. You must know how to maintain your fireplace so it will last for years, but also be safe.