A fireplace is a structure within conventional homes that provides heat and serves as an element of architectural style, as they are usually built into walls. In many homes, older and newer, the fireplace is a showcase for social gatherings.
Although most fireplaces are similarly constructed and share common features, the basic fireplace is comprised of a central foundation of cement, along with a hearth, a firebox and unique facing, ash dump and cleanout doors, a lintel and lintel bar, a breast, a damper, a smoke chamber, a throat, a flue, a chimney chase, a crown, a cap or shroud, and a spark arrestor. The structure of the fireplace was incorporated in the designs of homes for decades, even centuries. Today, however, since the fireplace has been replaced by central heating, the presence of fireplaces, where they still exist, seems to be to carry on tradition.
Traditionally, fireplaces were fueled by coal, wood, or peat. Today, these burning materials have been replaced by natural gas and electrical fires due to the fact that these are cleaner, safer, and frequently less expensive than the older forms of fuel. Gas fireplaces usually require small doses of fuel to allow flames to burn for long periods of time. Modern fireplaces are better and more economical that way.
Types of Fireplaces
Manufactured/Prefab Fireplaces—built with a sheet metal fire box, a double or triple walled metal pipe running up inside a wood framed chase, and a chase cover and cap/spark arrestor at the top. Salt water in close proximity causes this kind of chimney to rust, but it’s economical to the more expensive masonry chimney.
Masonry fireplaces—features tiles that implement the flue to prevent corrosion in the chimney flue lining. These are not earthquake-resistant!
Reinforced Concrete Chimneys: They had their heyday during the 1970s and ‘80s, but are now obsolete. Inherent defect: confliction of thermal expansion rates between the steel rebar and concrete will cause cracking in the flue when heated. The chimney is loaded with vertical cracks which become more severe as the internal rebar rusts.
Fireplaces are appealing, as they add style to one’s home. The fire is mesmerizing and relaxing, and mantels are very popular in boasting family memories. Fireplaces hold a value that goes beyond their originally intended function and the apparent flaws in their structure. It goes deeper than that–fireplaces represent all the securities and comforts of home!