Prefabricated fireplaces (also commonly referred to as factory-built or prefab fireplaces) are produced and assembled in a factory before being transported and installed by a professional fireplace installer at a particular job site. These fireplaces have been made since the 1960’s and have become popular over the years—now making up approximately 75% of all types of fireplaces—because of their low cost as compared to a traditional masonry fireplace and chimney.
A factory-built fireplace is a metal box that can come with or without vents on the top and bottom face of the fireplace, and components consisting of a damper, screen, pre-cast firebrick panels, glass doors, grate, smoke dome, metal chimney, metal chase top, flashing, and rain cap. Some prefab fireplaces are designed for wood burning only, others for gas only, and some can be used for both. The installation of a factory-built fireplace requires the construction of a surround. The opening of a surround is designed to allow the metal fireplace to slide into place and attach through the flange on the fireplace. Screws that are run through the metal flange of the fireplace and into the wood of the surround efficiently mount the unit in place. Gas and electric lines run to the fireplace inside of the surround. Only have a qualified professional installer handle your project. This is far from a do-it-yourself project, as one small mistake can result in a house fire.
Keep in mind that a prefab fireplace isn’t a masonry fireplace and can’t be treated as such. The fireplace and chimney are a complete system, engineered to work safely and efficiently together; both undergo testing together and are then listed specifically for use with each other. Most are listed as decorative appliances, and only small, ambient fires are to be burned in them because they won’t withstand the abuse a traditional masonry unit can be put through. Like any appliance, the life expectancy of a prefabricated fireplace is approximately 10-15 years as long as there are no damages due to a chimney fire, lightning strike, or other occurrence. When the system does begin nearing the end of its useful life, it’s important to remember that the entire unit will need to be replaced.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE OF YOUR UNIT
The same fire safety precautions that are used for a traditional fireplace should be observed when a factory-built fireplace is in use. In order to ensure safe and optimal operation, normal maintenance and cleaning are required, similar to those used for a traditional fireplace. The chimney should be inspected monthly during the heating season to determine if creosote has accumulated. A professional chimney sweep should be hired to clean out the unit at least once a year.
Prefabricated fireplace designs offer the best of both worlds to homeowners: the safety and convenience of a gas fireplace that is complete with safety features and the romance and ambience of a wood-burning fireplace. Cleaning of ashes and soot are replaced with dusting and polishing the metal construction. Our experts can handle your factory-built fireplace installation and maintenance needs. Scheduling an appointment with Owens Chimney Systems is as simple as ordering a pizza. Pick up the phone and give us a call today!