What Kind of Fireplace Do I Have?
It seems that these days, we are never without options. Just take a look at the egg selection at your local grocery store. Should you buy organic or non-organic? Farm-fresh? Local? Extra large? Brown or white? Vegetarian? Soy free? It seems that as time goes on, the possibilities in all fields of life grow exponentially. Although you may not be aware, there are different types of fireplaces and chimneys- prefabricated or factory built fireplace chimney and traditional or masonry fireplace chimney.
While both fireplace and chimney systems provide warmth and are enjoyable there are some distinct differences. If you are not sure what kind of fireplace and chimney system you have, read on!
Pre-fabricated Fireplaces and Chimney Systems
Pre-fabricated fireplaces and chimneys are designed in factory as a cohesive unit. These systems are extensively tested for safety and efficiency. They are regulated and must be built and installed per the manufacturer’s instructions. Manufacturer’s plainly list which chimney systems are safe to use with each specific fireplace, and if you do not heed their recommendation, you are putting your family at high risk for a fire.
As shown in the diagram, these systems have a metal firebox with precast refractory panels. If you look up past the damper you will see a round metal chimney. Above the roof is more round metal chimney or it is sometimes surrounded by a housing composed simulated brick or siding. You may also see a metal “shoe box lid” covering the chimney top this is known as a “chase cover” and a round chimney cap.
Prefabricated Fireplaces/Factory built fireplaces and chimneys can last for years, but keep in mind they are appliances and life expectancy is approximately 10 -15 years as long as there are no damages due to a chimney fire, lightning strike, water penetration or other occurrence. Over time the parts can wear out and ultimately need replaced.
Masonry Fireplaces and Chimney Systems
As shown in the diagram, these systems has a firebox built of individual generally yellowish firebrick, a brick chimney above the roof and if you look up past the damper you will see an upside down funnel also built of brick.
A masonry fireplace and chimney system will typically last longer than a prefabricated fireplace. When properly designed, constructed, and must be maintained, masonry fireplaces and chimneys can withstand decades of heat and fire abuse. The bricks and mortar may begin to crumble over the span of many years,but as long as you have regular maintenance and the application of water repellent coating to your masonry system, it will add warmth, enjoyment, and value to your home well into the future.
You can install a fireplace insert in a fireplace, but that is not the case with a prefabricated fireplace unit.
Below are some real life examples of prefabricated and masonry chimneys and fireplaces.
Now that you know the differences you should be able to tell what kind of system you have, prefabricated or masonry. Contact us today – we’ll be glad to talk you through the differences. But – we still can’t help you pick out eggs!