submitted by Matt Halper, Owner, American Chimney, www.americanchimney.net
A chimney is made of masonry or metal and contains a flue which can be made of clay tile, typical of most masonry chimneys, or of metal.
The main purpose of a chimney is to vent the products of combustion from your home.
That function is crucial because the products of combustion contain hazardous and noxious gasses including carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that can cause serious illness or death when it is present in sufficient amounts.
Carbon monoxide is responsible for hundreds of deaths and countless illnesses every year.
In the case of chimneys, carbon monoxide can find its way into the house through cracks or holes created by moisture, residue or chimney fires or due to a blockage in the chimney, which causes inadequate venting.
The other important function of a fireplace chimney is to keep excessive heat away from the combustible building materials that surround the chimney.
Heat or flames from a chimney fire can escape through cracks in the clay flue liner or through damaged or missing mortar joints in the chimney.
This in turn can lead to surrounding combustible materials that make up your home’s construction to catch fire.
A well-structured chimney and flue are designed to offer protection to your family and home from both the dangers of noxious gasses such as carbon monoxide, and from the high levels of heat present in the flue gasses of fireplaces.
Like all structures, they must receive regular inspections and maintenance in order to maintain their integrity and keep your home safe.