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The Care And Maintenance Of A Prefab Chimney

Factory built, or prefabricated fireplaces, are relative newcomers to the fireplace scene, commonly available only for the last 30 years or so. Unlike traditional site-built masonry fireplaces, most factory built fireplaces are made of metal, and come from the factory as complete units with a firebox, a specific chimney system, and all miscellaneous parts. With proper installation and maintenance, they can give years of service, but there are some special considerations owners of these systems should be aware of:

1) The factory-built fireplace and chimney are a complete system, engineered to work safely and efficiently together. Both units(fireplace and chimney), undergo testing together, then are listed specifically for use with each other. To insure a safe system, you MUST use the exact chimney specified, along with the specified rain cap, flashing package, and all other system components.

2) Most factory built fireplaces are tested and listed as decorative heating appliances and will not withstand the abuse often heaped on their masonry counterparts. Although they are tested to U.L. standards, severe overfiring and chimney fires will often badly damage these units. Regular yearly maintenance, cleaning at generally 1/8″ buildup, and careful monitoring can assure a safe enjoyable system.

3) Many prefab chimneys, especially older units with an imitation brick housing above the roof, seem to be a preferred nesting site for birds in many areas. It is not unusual for chimney sweeps to take literally buckets of nesting material from these chimneys. This nesting can catch fire directly, or it can block critical air passageways between layers of metal chimney pipe, allowing the chimney to overheat. Both scenarios routinely cause house fires. Most after market chimney covers do not correctly address the problem, and can often make the situations worse. A careful screening of all potential nesting areas with the proper sized screening may be in order.

4) Finally, prefab fireplace systems eventually just plain wear out. Models go out of production and manufacturers go out of business. A factory-built unit will reach the end of is useful life when repair of the unit is no longer possible, particularly if the components that are necessary to maintain the listing are no longer available. Keep a close eye on an aging unit, and be prepared to send ole faithful to the great recycling plant in the sky before she fails completely.

By Mike O'Mara on July 18th, 2013 | Tagged with: | Leave a Comment

$50,000 In Damage Due To Chimney Fire

Prefab Chimney After A Chimney Fire

Prefab Chimney After A Chimney Fire

The Republic newspaper of Columbus Indiana recently reported a tragic fire that was caused by the negligence on the home owner’s behalf. Nobody was hurt, but the damage was costly. Firefighters reported that the fire had been caused by defects to the fireplace and that a regular inspection might have kept this incident from ever occurring.

Sweep And Inspect Your Chimney Every Year

The NFPA 211 recommends that every chimney can be swept and inspected every year as needed to prevent chimney fires. Chimneys can be blocked due to lack of maintenance and Creosote can build up thus becoming a terrible fire hazard.

Keep your family safe by having Weststar Chimney Sweeps come in and do a thorough inspection of your chimney and fireplace to ensure that there are no imperfections that may in some way put not only your home at risk, but your family as well.

By Mike O'Mara on July 18th, 2013 | Tagged with: | Leave a Comment