Although fireplaces and chimneys are built to withstand not only the heat from fires but also the outside elements, they can still become damaged or deteriorate due to wear and tear over time. While many homeowners focus on keeping their chimneys clean and in good condition, they may forget to check for damage to the firebox.
Because the firebox contains the fire itself, it is extremely important that it is not damaged and is in good condition. A damaged firebox does not mean you have to stop using your fireplace forever, however. Firebox repairs can allow you to get back to safely enjoying your fireplace system sooner.
Causes of firebox damage
Because the firebox is directly exposed to the heat and flames from a fire, they are sturdily built to withstand lots of wear and tear. Despite this, there are still a number of things that can cause your firebox to be damaged or deteriorate prematurely. The following are some of the most common causes of firebox damage.
– Improper installation: If your firebox was not built correctly using appropriate materials, it may become damaged or deteriorate faster. Unfortunately, rather than hiring a skilled mason, some contractors or construction workers attempt to build fireboxes themselves in an attempt to save money. While this may slightly reduce building costs, it leads to significantly higher maintenance costs in the future. Fireboxes need to be built using high quality firebrick and refractory mortar; if subpar materials are used, the firebox will not be able to withstand repeated exposure to the flames and heat of a fire.
For homes with factory built fireplaces, new refractory panels can be installed. Installing new refractory can help extend the life of your factory built fireplace while ensuring it is still safe to use.
– Setting: Similar to the building materials, how a firebox is built can impact its longevity. Because all homes settle over time, it is important that fireplaces are built using strong concrete footings. Fireplace footings should not only be able to support the weight of the fireplace and chimney, but should also keep the fireplace steady in the event of settling. In homes with footings that are lacking, cracks may appear in the firebox; this is a sign that settling is putting stress on the fireplace system. Likewise, these cracks in the masonry create the risk of exposing the surrounding building materials to heat, smoke, and gas.
– Water entry: While most homeowners know that water can damage their chimneys exterior, few worry about interior water damage. If you have suffered a chimney leak – no matter how small – the water can cause damage to the firebox. Because the refractory materials used to build fireboxes are designed to reflect heat, they can be easily damaged by water.
Similar to exterior masonry, cracked or spalling firebox masonry can be repaired by tuckpointing. By repairing the firebox with proper refractory materials, the firebox can safely last for years to come.
Because the firebox is responsible for containing the majority of the flames and heat from the fire it needs to be free from cracks and other damage. If your firebox has been damaged, it is important to have it repaired as soon as possible. Contact Pristine Sweeps today to learn about how we can help repair your firebox!