Masonry fireplaces are fireplaces which are generally designed to burn wood. They were originally introduced to be the main source of heat before the days of central heating. Although masonry fireplaces have many disadvantages, especially regarding efficiency, they are still commonly found in many homes.
Made with stones, cement blocks or brick, masonry fireplaces are fireproof. They generally include a deep, open firebox, which is not very efficient. Air-circulating fireplaces are a new type of masonry fireplace which are more efficient and deliver more heated air into the room. This is accomplished by vents under the firebox which draw in fresh air and circulate it around the inside of the fireplace. The heated are is then released through more vents in the upper part of the fireplace.
Most traditional fireplaces are masonry fireplaces. The materials being used for the fireplace depend upon its style and design. Stones, brick, and cement may be used separately or together, with different binding agents. One of the advantages of a masonry fireplace is that the masonry material absorbs the fire's warmth, releasing it slowly and providing heat even after the fire has been extinguished.
A masonry fireplace is a difficult building project; one that should be left to experts. Each locality has its own building codes to follow, and handling masonry supplies is not an easy task for beginners. In addition, masonry fireplaces have many components that are not even seen from the outside.
Since a masonry fireplace can be so heavy, it needs a sturdy foundation to bear its weight. The foundation must be laid in a secure matter, so that it does not shift or crack. If the foundation is damaged, the chimney can easily become damaged. This in turn can allow carbon monoxide, a toxic gas, to be emitted into the house.
The part of a masonry fireplace which actually contains the fire is called a firebox. This is often constructed out of concrete even when the rest of the fireplace is made of brick or stone. The top of the firebox tapers to a narrow opening as it transitions between the firebox and the flue. A damper is located in this area, which acts as a door to open or close the entrance to the flue. While a fire is burning, the damper must be opened in order to let smoke escape through the flue into the chimney and outside.
Above the damper is a smoke chamber which helps direct smoke out of the chimney. The chimney, in turn, directs the gases and smoke out of the house. Chimneys can be built in many different styles, according to the style of the home and fireplace.
Written by Bronwyn Harris