Masonry Chimney: Parts, Pros, Cons & Building

Masonry chimneys are among the most common types of chimney systems found in homes. It’s common knowledge that chimneys are built from a variety of materials.

However, of all these, masonry chimneys widely remain popular due to many advantages as will be discussed shortly. There are lots of things to know about masonry chimneys.

These range from the design, how to build one, and common issues among several others.

You’ll be learning all of these and more as you stick around.

About Masonry Chimneys

It’s without a doubt that masonry chimneys are the most recognized, hence the most common chimney types. The other is a factory-built chimney or metal chimney.

Basic materials for masonry chimney construction include mortar, bricks, blocks, or stone.

Irrespective of the material used for masonry chimney construction, it serves its normal function of venting out combustion gases and smoke while letting in air to aid combustion.

If masonry chimneys are popular, then there must be advantages, right? True!

Advantages of Masonry Chimneys

In terms of the advantages of masonry chimneys, there are several.

First, it’s visually appealing while also enhancing a home’s resale value. What more? Masonry chimneys are known to be efficient and durable.

  • Visually Appealing

Aesthetic appeal matters a lot in home and chimney construction. However, only well-constructed masonry chimneys will have aesthetic appeal.

This is why you’ll need a professional to handle your masonry chimney construction.

  • Improving Resale Value

With aesthetic appeal comes improved resale value.

A lot of home buyers have certain expectations for properties they wish to buy. Most of the time, homes or structures with masonry chimneys sell faster than those without them.

This trend shows a clear preference.

  • Efficient

One of the things you’ll get or benefit from masonry chimneys is their efficiency.

A well-designed masonry chimney enhances heat reflection. So, while smoke is effectively expelled from the home, the fireplace area is kept warmer.

  • Durable

One built masonry chimneys will serve for many years.

However, this depends on the level of maintenance carried out on the chimney. You’ll need to set a schedule for inspections and other maintenance procedures such as repairs.

Whatever the case is, the durability of a masonry chimney is never in doubt.

Disadvantages of Masonry Chimneys

It’s not all rosy with masonry chimneys.

The truth is, there are certain downsides to using a masonry chimney. These include the type of materials used for construction, structural limitations, cost, and regular maintenance.

  • Type of Materials Used for Construction

Although we earlier referred to the durability of masonry chimneys, this feature largely rests on the types of materials used. Chimneys built from inferior materials like brittle or soft brick won’t be as durable as those constructed using hard bricks.

  • Structural Limitations

Caution is key when determining the weight-carrying capacity of a structure.

By the nature of materials used for masonry chimney construction, it’s evident that such will be heavy. This is why they won’t be a great addition to high-rise buildings or any structure above 2 stories in height.

  • Masonry Cost

If you’re working on a tight budget, you might want to reconsider the options available to you.

This is because the cost of a masonry fireplace or chimney is on the high side.

Maintenance also tends to be costlier than other chimney types.

  • Regular Maintenance

A more frequent maintenance schedule must be observed for persons having masonry chimneys.

Of course, you’ll need the services of a reputable chimney service. These companies provide comprehensive cleanup for all chimney types including masonry chimneys.

Parts Of A Masonry Chimney

To fully understand how a masonry chimney works, you’ll need to know the different parts involved.

There are several of them they include the chimney cap, chimney crown, flue, smoke chamber, flashing, smoke shelf, lintel, firebox, and throat among several others.

Let’s take a look at some of these.

  • Chimney Cap

The chimney cap is one component that’s found at the top of the chimney. This is in the form of a hat and keeps out moisture and as well as debris from getting into the system.

Chimney caps are found on all chimney types.

  • Chimney Crown

Another component of the masonry chimney is the crown. This is mostly made of concrete slab placed on the chimney top. It has an opening through which the flue passes to expel smoke and gases.

  • Flue

The flue is the conduit through which smoke is vented out of the fireplace. It’s common to find multiple flues connecting to a single chimney. This is mostly the case when multiple stoves are being used.

  • Smoke Chamber

The smoke chamber of a masonry chimney is in the form of an inverted funnel and is found just above the damper.

  • Flashing

The flashing serves as a seal to keep moisture and water from penetrating and damaging a chimney. Chimney flashing consists of step flashing and counter flashing. It’s installed at the point where the chimney exits the rooftop.

  • Smoke Shelf

You’ll find the smoke shelf near the smoke chamber. It works in conjunction with the smoke chamber to expel combustion gases and smoke out the chimney.

  • Lintel

The lintel component of a chimney is largely embedded into the structure. It serves to support the weight of bricks at the fireplace center.

  • Firebox

This is where the actual combustion occurs. The firebox for the masonry chimney is mostly made of bricks. A special type of brick is used to help withstand the heat.

  • Throat

The throat is the passageway through which smoke exits the damper. It’s located directly beneath the damper and at the top of the firebox. The smoke passes through the throat and drafts up the chimney.

  • Hearth

This component mostly sits in front of your fireplace and is made of non-combustible material. It serves as floor protection from heat radiation, burning logs that may roll out, as well as flying embers and sparks.

Building A Masonry Chimney

Chimney systems are best built by professionals. Anything less than professional input will only result in faulty constructions. This harms chimney performance.

So far, we’ve covered all the basic aspects of masonry chimneys. With such information, you’re able to decide what decisions to take in terms of installation or maintenance.

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