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A chimney funnels flue gasses, smoke and other emissions from your furnace, wood stove or fireplace to the outside of the building. Chimneys are commonly found on the roof and most often made of brick, although stone and other materials are sometimes used. Chimneys are sometimes decorative, but they don't have to be. A simple brick shaft is generally sufficient.
Chimneys are important for several reasons. For one thing, they whisk away the smoke from a wood stove or fireplace and prevent your living areas from clouding up. Chimneys also prevent dangerous by-products of your furnace or fireplace, like carbon monoxide, from entering your home and harming your family and pets.
Chimneys must be cleaned periodically to prevent a build-up of creosote, a natural by-product of wood fires. Left unattended, the creosote can become a fire hazard. Chimneys for natural gas fireplaces require less frequent maintenance. Brick chimneys are also subject to weather and decay, as moisture can seep in between the bricks and destroy the mortar over time.