Caring for Pre-Fabricated Fireplaces
With fall and its cooler weather approaching, it’s time to start getting your fireplace ready for another season. If you own a pre-fabricated (factory-built) fireplace, there are some aspects of care that are different from using and maintaining traditional masonry fireplaces.
Pre-fabs are unique
Caring for pre-fabricated fireplaces starts with using them properly. These units are built in a factory, ready to ship and start using. Typically they’re constructed of metal rather than bricks or other masonry, which are common materials in fireplaces that were built from scratch on-site.
Pre-fabricated fireplaces are designed to fit within a tighter space than standard fireplaces. This, along with their metal construction and the fact they normally won’t have a heavy-duty cement base, makes them unable to safely run big fires for very long periods of time. Pre-fabs include insulation and air-cooled pipes to prevent excess heat from radiating out from the unit, but the construction of these appliances will not allow for the same level of fire and temperature as a well-built masonry fireplace.
So the primary task in caring for pre-fabricated fireplaces is don’t over-use them. If you have been using a pre-fab but have never closely read the manufacturer’s literature that came with it, please do so before the upcoming cold season. If you’re considering replacing a masonry fireplace with a pre-fab, talk to your hearth store expert and read the owner’s manual for the unit you select. With proper use, a pre-fabricated fireplace will run safely and give you years of enjoyment.
Hire a pro for installation
Because of the unique safety concerns of pre-fabricated fireplaces, they must be installed by an experienced professional who can ensure that the unit is placed correctly for safety and correct operation. Some homeowners have the idea that installing a pre-fab is not much more complicated than putting a new fuse in the fuse box. But this is not true, and doing it yourself could lead to problems you won’t want to deal with.
Basic cleaning of a pre-fab is generally the same as cleaning a masonry appliance. Periodic sweeping of the firebox and washing down with a good soapy cleanser will keep the inside of the unit looking good.
The importance of chimney inspection and cleaning
The chimney is another element of owning a pre-fabricated fireplace that will need to be dealt with by an individual trained in this discipline. Wood fires produce smoke, and a byproduct of smoke is creosote, a sticky substance that clings to the walls or liner of a chimney. With excess buildup, creosote can ignite. Chimney fires are all too common in American homes, and the best way to prevent one is to order regular cleaning and inspection.
When installed correctly, used according to the manufacturer’s guidelines and periodically cleaned and inspected, a pre-fabricated fireplace will be a welcomed – and safe – addition to your home, providing you with many seasons of warmth and coziness.
If you have questions about pre-fabricated fireplaces or are thinking of purchasing one, call Chimney Solutions of Alpharetta, Ga. We can help you select the best model for your home and talk with you about expert cleaning, inspection and maintenance services. Reach us at (770) 691-6707.