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What Kind Of Fireplace Do I Have?

Knowing how to care for your fireplace starts with knowing what kind of fireplace you have. There are two types: prefabricated (prefab, for short) or factory built and masonry. Read on to learn more about each and determine which type you have.

Masonry Fireplaces & Chimneys

Do you have brick or stone on your chimney and fireplace? You have a masonry fireplace system.

Masonry fireplaces and chimneys are what you likely think of when you picture a traditional chimney and fireplace system. These are made on-site, in the home, and built of materials like mortar and brick or stone. For the most part, masonry fireplaces and chimneys are built during the construction of the home and are part of it structurally.

Your masonry fireplace and chimney system will include a firebox (made of firebrick), a damper, a smoke chamber (an upside down funnel just above the damper), a flue, and a brick or stone chimney stack that extends up above the roof. At the top of the chimney should be a chimney cap and a crown, which is a cement covering over the chimney stack.

How long do masonry fireplaces and chimneys last?

One reason why masonry fireplaces and chimneys have always been popular is that they’re longer lasting than prefab chimney systems. Because they’re made of brick or stone and mortar, you can expect a masonry chimney system that’s well built and well maintained to last for decades and decades.

While deterioration can occur (bricks can crumble, mortar can crack), if repairs are made early on and the chimney is protected against water damage, you won’t have to worry about replacing your masonry fireplace and chimney anytime soon.

What if I have a metal firebox and a brick chimney?

Do you have a brick chimney but a metal firebox? A fireplace insert was probably installed in your masonry chimney and fireplace. Inserts can be installed to reduce heat loss and inefficiency, restore deteriorated masonry fireboxes, and convert a fireplace to a different fuel type.

Prefab Fireplaces & Chimneys

Do you have a metal chimney and fireplace or a chimney covered in siding? You have a prefab fireplace system.

Prefab fireplaces and chimneys are complete systems that are designed and tested in factory for safety, efficiency, and performance. These systems are built of metal fireboxes, refractory panels, and man-made materials, and are installed in the home according to manufacturers’ instructions.

Like a masonry fireplace, your prefab fireplace and chimney will have a damper, a chimney cap,  and a flue, and it may have a chase — a chimney surround that resembles brick, siding, or another material. At the top of the chase, there should be a chase cover, which is like the crown on a masonry chimney.

Can you mix and match prefab fireplaces and chimneys?

Each fireplace manufacturer lists exactly which chimney systems are tested and approved for use with the fireplace. Using anything other than the recommended chimney will put you and your home in danger and prevent your fireplace from performing at peak safety and efficiency levels.

How long do prefab fireplaces and chimneys last?

As long as you keep up with recommended annual maintenance and no chimney fires, leaks, or lightning strikes occur, you can expect your prefab fireplace system to last for 10-15 years.

Sometimes parts can break down or wear out, and when they do, they’ll need to be replaced. But because these systems are cohesive and not just any part can be used to replace a worn down part, if the manufacturer no longer makes that part or it’s unavailable for some reason, you’ll need to replace the entire fireplace.

Call Today To Get Answers To Your Questions Or Schedule A Free Estimate

Do you have questions about your fireplace and chimney system or need to schedule an appointment to have some maintenance performed? Call Magic Broom today. We provide free estimates and we’d be more than happy to answer any questions you have.