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The Differences Between Prefabricated and Masonry Fireplaces

Many homeowners assume that all fireplaces are the same – and have the same maintenance needs. However, the kind of chimney system your home has can have an impact on fireplace performance, maintenance requirements, and overall lifespan.Prefabricated & Masonry Fireplaces Image - San Francisco CA - Fireplace Safety

Fireplaces can be divided into two main categories: prefabricated or factory-built, and traditional or masonry fireplaces. While both kinds of chimney system can last for years, heating your home, and creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere, there are a number of differences between the two.

Prefabricated Fireplaces

Prefabricated, or factory built, fireplaces are designed and built as a cohesive unit. Built to standard regulations and dimensions in a factory setting, they undergo rigorous testing for safety and efficiency. Prefabricated fireplaces should be installed and maintained according to manufacturer standards in order to ensure safety and efficiency.

First popularized in the 1960s, prefabricated fireplaces are used in the majority of new construction today due to their affordability. Depending on usage and maintenance, a prefabricated fireplace will typically have a lifespan of about 30 years; at this point, the entire fireplace system will need to be replaced.

In addition to a standard firebox, prefabricated fireplaces have a chimney pipe that extends through the roof. While the chimney pipe can be left uncovered it is often encased in siding or masonry to create a chimney chase. The top of the chase is protected by a chimney chase cover, a metal lid that prevents water, debris, and animal entry.

Masonry Fireplaces

Masonry fireplaces are part of the plan and footprint of your home. They are built on site by certified masons, typically when the house itself is being constructed. Made of bricks, blocks, or stone, masonry fireplaces are typically seen in older homes. Because of their work intensive construction and the materials used, masonry fireplaces are considerably more expensive, but can also add greater value to your home.

While they are extremely durable due to their custom construction, masonry fireplaces are not indestructible. Like manufactured fireplaces, they require annual maintenance in order to burn safely and efficiently. Masonry fireplaces do have a significantly longer lifespan than their manufactured counterparts when well maintained, however.

Open hearth masonry fireplaces can handle high heats but are not known for being efficient. To improve efficiency, homeowners can utilize fireplace accessories such as firebacks or glass fireplace doors. Likewise, fireplace inserts can be installed into existing masonry fireplaces to improve efficiency or change fuel sources.

No matter the kind of fireplace system you have in your home, it can create heat – and warm memories – for years to come. However, prefabricated and masonry chimneys have unique building components and maintenance needs. The kind of fireplace system that is best for your home often comes down to cost, heating requirements, environmental and efficiency considerations, as well as personal preference.

Contact Us

At Fireplace Safety Services, our expert staff can help you better understand the differences between prefabricated and masonry fireplaces, as well as determine which system is best for your home. Contact us today for more information on the differences between these fireplace systems.

What Brands Do We Use For Our Services?

One of the most common questions we get from customers is what kind of brands we use for our services. At Fireplace Safety Services, our years of experience in the chimney industry have helped us find the brands that offer our customers the safety and quality they have come to expect with our services. The following is just a sampling of the high-quality brands we are proud to offer our customers.

Chimney ReliningWhat Brands Do We Use Image - San Francisco CA - Fireplace Safety Services

Whether your chimney has been damaged, you’ve switched fuel sources, or gotten a new insert, your chimney may need to be relined. When relining the chimney, we offer several brand name products to our customers.

  • M-Flex Stainless Steel Liners.
    National Chimney Supply manufactures M-Flex stainless steel chimney liners in the United States by. These high-quality liners come in several sizes and styles; this gives our customers choice when it comes to selecting a new chimney liner.
  • HeatShield.
    HeatShield is a refractory sealant that can be used to fill in and repair specific holes, gaps, or cracks as well as to reline the entire flue. This product can help chimney liners return to their original, smooth surface with ease.
  • Ahrens.
    Ahrens pour-in chimney liners are used to create a two-liner system; this protects the chimney and surrounding building materials from heat and corrosion while simultaneously reducing creosote buildup. Ahrens chimney liners can be used in zero clearance chimney because it has two insulation layers.

Chimney Inspections

During regular annual maintenance, your chimney sweep may recommend a Level 2 chimney inspection. Level 2 chimney inspections are often performed when:

  • the fuel source has changed,
  • to help uncover the source of an ongoing chimney problem,
  • or before a home is bought or sold.

Technology such as closed-circuit cameras may be used in a Level 2 Inspection. At Fireplace Safety Services, we are proud to use Chim-Scan cameras systems to provide homeowners with a comprehensive picture of their chimney’s condition.

Inspections using the Chim-Scan systems allows the chimney sweep to get an up-close and personal look at otherwise inaccessible portions of the chimney and flue. We can find and repair hidden cracks, corrosion, blockages, damage, or deterioration in a timley manner.

Fireplace Sales and Installation

Buying a new fireplace at a big box store puts your family’s safety in the hands of a less than knowledgeable staff. Don’t spend hours aimlessly wandering the aisles without help! Let the experts at Fireplace Safety Services find the perfect fireplace, insert, or stove for your family.

Whether you want a freestanding stove, a new insert for your hearth, or an entirely new fireplace installed, our expert staff can guide you through the process of choosing a new fireplace – and safely install it. This allows you to find the perfect heating appliance for your home and trust that it has been safely and correctly installed.

At Fireplace Safety Services, we are proud to carry high-quality brands that our customers can trust. For more information on the top brands, we carry or to schedule your next service appointment, contact us today.

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