While it is built to withstand extreme temperatures and keep the rest of your home protected against the flames of a fire, the firebox may be one of the most delicate chimney components. If damaged, the firebox cannot effectively protect the surrounding building materials from the heat, smoke, flames, and gasses produced when the fireplace is in use; because of this, it is extremely important to have the firebox repaired or replaced if it becomes damaged.
What causes firebox damage?
Fireboxes can withstand prolonged, direct heat from flames – but this does not make them impervious to damage. The following are three of the most common causes of damage to fireboxes.
- Water entry: Withstand heat and withstanding water are two different things; exposure to even small amounts of water can be dangerous to the refractory masonry of a firebox. Chimney leaks or attempting to use water to extinguish a fire can all cause water damage to a firebox.
- Settling: All homes settle as they age; the footing that your fireplace was built on affects how well a fireplace will settle. Without a properly constructed base, the fireplace and chimney can shift and crack as a home settles. Large cracks in the firebox are commonly caused by settling due to improper fireplace footings. Outside, settling can also cause a chimney to shift or lilt.
- Incorrect construction: If a firebox is not built correctly using the right materials, it can quickly deteriorate and need to be replaced. Good fireboxes should always be built by masons – not contractors – using high quality refractory bricks and mortar. Cutting corners during construction may save money, but it can lead to fireplace performance problems and safety issues in the future.
Replacing a damaged firebox
If your firebox is damaged but the rest of your chimney system is in good condition, there is no reason to stop using your fireplace forever. Instead, firebox replacement can help you get the most out of your fireplace – without the cost of tearing down and rebuilding the entire chimney system.
Instead of taking out the damaged firebox and building a new one, a fireplace insert is often the best replacement. Inserts are easy to use and efficient heating appliances; available in a number of sizes and styles – as well as with several different fuel sources – there is the perfect insert for every family. Inserts can also be easily installed into an existing firebox, even if it is damaged. Because of the existing venting and chimney system, no additional construction may be necessary when professional installed.
Manufactured fireplaces can also be repaired or replaced. If the damage is localized to one part of the firebox, new refractory panels can be installed. Doing this can help extend the life of a manufactured fireplace when the rest of the unit is still functioning and burning safely.
If your firebox is damaged, your fireplace doesn’t have to be shut down for good. Instead, have your firebox replaced and go back to enjoying your fireplace again. For more information on firebox replacement, contact Pristine Sweeps today!