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Fireplaces, Firewood and Fire Products: Explained!

 Jan 30, 2020    Fireplace Doors, Safety & Maintenance, Heating Your Home, Do It Yourself

Fireplaces, Firewood and Fire Products: Explained!

This outdoor wood fireplace makes an excellent addition to any outdoor space!
This outdoor wood fireplace is not only good at keeping you warm on crisp nights, it can increase the resale value of your property as well.

Owning a fireplace brings a completely new aesthetic to whatever room you place it in. Whether you own an indoor or outdoor fireplace, it is equally important that you know everything about it.

It isn’t as simple as you might think to use a fireplace. Simply knowing how to flip on the gas lighter or light the wood directly isn’t enough. You also need to know how the fireplace works, how to clean it, and what the various fireplace-related terms mean.

Fireplace and firewood terminology isn’t overly complicated once you’ve taken the time to understand what each term means and its purpose. Knowing all of these terms will make it very easy for you to discuss any issues or questions you have with a professional as they will also know what those terms mean, obviously.

So, without further ado, let’s get into all those fancy fireplace terms, shall we?

Wood Burning Fireplace and Fixture Terms

Ash Pit

The ash pit is the portion of your fireplace just below where you would burn your logs. The ash pit is designed to catch any dirt or ashes from the burnt wood, making it easy for you to clean up afterward.

Firebox (Inner Hearth)

The firebox is where you would actually place your wood and light your fire. It will usually include fire bricks on all sides that are able to survive under high temperatures.

Your firebox is a vital component of your fireplace.
Many people use 'fireplace' and firebox' interchangeably, but your fireplace is the entire unit from the hearth up. The firebox is the part where your wood or, in the case of a gas fireplace, ceramic logs go.

Fireplace Grate

A fireplace grate can be used to hold your logs slightly above the ash pit, rather than right on it. This makes cleaning up your fireplace much easier!

Mantel

The original purpose of the mantel was to catch smoke from the fireplace. These days, the mantel is generally used as an aesthetic or just not included at all.

Damper

The damper is a closable door installed in the chimney, effectively closing the flue while you are not using the fireplace. Be sure to open it again before starting a fire!

Lintel

The lintel is comprised of the top and front portions of your firebox. It helps keep the logs stable and directs smoke up the chimney instead of into your home.

Throat

The throat is located at the firebox’s opening just above the lintel. It is the beginning of your ventilation system and must be installed as the fireplace is put together. It should be a minimum of eight inches.

Smoke Chamber

You may be able to guess what this is. The smoke chamber is directly above the throat, however, its primary purpose is actually to keep cold air from coming in through your chimney.

Flue

The flue is the other portion of the chimney that is designed to lead the smoke up and out of your home via the chimney. It works in conjunction with the smoke chamber.

Surround

The surround is the portion of the fireplace that surrounds the outside of a wall-set fireplace. The materials are typically tiling or stone.

Firewood Terms

Not every fire needs the same kind of wood.
Firewood has to be seasoned in order to burn properly and it's important to not only know what kind of firewood you need, but also the terminology that goes with it so you don't buy too much or too little.

Cord

The cord is a standard measurement of volume for stacked wood. One cord of wood is equal to 128 cubic feet of stacked wood. The typical dimensions of a cord are as follows:

  • Width – 4 feet
  • Height – 4 feet
  • Length – 8 feet

Air is also included in this volume, so the stack will not reach 128 cubic feet of actual wood. Typically, there will be around 70 to 90 cubic feet of wood and 58-78 cubic feet of air inside.

Rick (Face Cord)

A rick or face cord is one stack of the cord. Since stacks in a cord are placed in 4 x 8-foot stacks, a rick will equal those dimensions with the width being equal to the width of the logs.

Heat Value

The heat value of wood refers to the amount of heat produced by each burning piece of wood. Here are the approximate heat values for various types of wood:

  • A Cord of Wood with High Heat Value – 200 to 250 gallons of heating oil
  • A Cord of Wood with Medium Heat Value – 150 to 200 gallons of heating oil
  • A Cord of Wood with Low Heat Value – 100 to 150 gallons of heating oil

Seasoned Wood

Seasoned wood refers to wood that has already been left to dry, making it ready to burn. Seasoned wood tends to be left to dry for about six months. While the wait time may be long, seasoned wood can burn better and for longer than recently cut or split wood. For more information, you can read our article 'The Best Firewood for your Fireplace'!

Feeling Informed?

You now know all the important terms for fireplaces, fireplace wood, and fireplace fixtures! If anyone asks you anything about your fireplace now, you’ll be able to answer like a professional!

Still have questions? That's okay! You can take advantage of our Ask Chris feature- your one on one with the founder of the company and our expert on fireplaces!

Our Ask Chris feature allows you to ask questions that we may not have answered here.
Last updated on February 5th 2020.

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