Don’t Delay Firebox Repairs – Schedule With Lords Chimney Today!
The fireplace is the heart of the home. It’s the gathering place for many family traditions, a warm space when it’s time to unwind, and… often the most overlooked home appliance when it’s time to schedule maintenance.
The good news? An annual chimney inspection can uncover areas of concern within your chimney system before they become expensive repair or replacement projects. That way if your firebox – or any other part of your system – is showing signs of deterioration, we can spot it early and get it addressed.
If you’re in the Houston or Beaumont area, Lords Chimney is the team to call for yearly inspections, cleanings, and any other chimney service you need. Our chimney technicians are the best in town and they’re ready to get to work. Give us a call at 281-497-4000 or set up an appointment online now.
What Is a Firebox?
Both masonry and prefabricated (prefab) fireplaces have a firebox, which is essentially the visible area of your fireplace where your fire is lit and burns openly. Whether you want a specialty firebox built or want your current one fixed or revamped a bit, you can count on Lords Chimney to take care of you.
Don’t know much about the firebox and its important role in your fireplace and chimney system? Let us explain.
- Masonry fireplaces, which are made of bricks, blocks, or stone and mortar, have fireboxes that are built on-site and made of firebrick, which is brick that’s able to withstand that direct contact with your fires.
- Prefab fireplaces – which have become much more common and popular over the past 25 years or so – have lightweight metal fireboxes along with metal chimneys. These metal fireboxes are made of cast refractory panels.
Both types of fireboxes can present their own problems. For instance, because masonry fireboxes are built to the specifications of the original mason, their quality varies greatly from fireplace to fireplace. Prefab fireplaces, meanwhile, must abide by very specific installation instructions to ensure that proper clearances are met, and it’s important that their fireboxes be professionally inspected for inevitable signs of wear and tear.
Because of the amount of water we get here in Houston, it’s very common to see improperly maintained fireboxes rusting out or wearing down rather quickly.
Common Firebox Problems
At Lords Chimney, we don’t believe in a “one-size-fits-all” approach to chimney care. No two chimneys are the same and our inspections are a reflection of that. Still, there are a few chimney repair jobs that we’ve had a lot of hands-on experience with over our 20 years in the chimney industry. If you’re having issues with your firebox – whether it’s prefab or masonry – chances are we know how to address it.
Common Masonry Firebox Issues
- Cracked firebricks. Cracks can develop in your firebox’s firebricks due to the stress of repeated heating and cooling cycles. These cracks allow heat to escape into your home and could put your household at risk.
- Deteriorated mortar joints. The mortar holding the firebricks together can degrade with wear and tear leading to loose or missing mortar joints.
- Damaged hearth. The hearth is the space of the floor directly in front of the firebox. Exposure to heat and the weight of wood piles can damage this area after repeated use.
- Water-related deterioration. Chimney leaks are notorious for causing damage to the firebox, as rainwater can mix with soot to create an acidic substance that will erode mortar joints.
- Poorly built. We often find that the original firebox was built without special high-temperature refractory mortar, making it more vulnerable.
If you see loose fire bricks or holes in the mortar or brick in your firebox, don’t put off calling about having your firebox repaired or rebuilt. A firebox in disrepair means that your fire may not stay contained and could wind up posing a huge danger. Even though fire brick is designed to stand up to heat, its joints will eventually begin to deteriorate from the expansion and contraction cycles caused by the extreme heat of a fire as well as the changing seasons.
Broken Refractory Panels
Common Prefab Firebox Issues
- Evidence of water damage. Water is the biggest threat to chimneys and fireplaces. It can seep in through the chimney itself or through cracks in the firebox. Water is known to cause crumbling bricks, gaps in the mortar, and mold growth.
- Rust and metal decay. While masonry fireboxes are made with durable firebricks, prefab fireboxes have metal parts. If there’s an untreated chimney leak or another moisture issue, those components can rust.
- Damaged refractory panels. In prefab fireboxes, refractory panels lining the walls can crack or degrade because of extreme heat. They might also be loose, bent, or experience gapping.
- Incorrect sizing. Sometimes we come across a situation where the firebox wasn’t measured properly during installation and it’s too large for the chimney. This can lead to draft issues and incomplete burning.
Because the prefab’s firebox comes as part of a complete factory-built system, it’s important to have a professional check out your fireplace so you can be assured that all parts are compatible, installed correctly, and still in good working order. It’s common knowledge that factory-built fireplaces cannot withstand the amount of use that their masonry counterparts can. And according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), over half of the prefab units inspected by professionals are improperly installed.
Prefab firebox clearances prove to be especially difficult for homeowners to check themselves. Your safety isn’t something you want left to chance. Schedule an inspection today for the peace of mind you deserve.
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Can a Damaged Firebox Be Repaired?
Yes, a damaged firebox can usually be repaired. Of course, this depends on the extent of the damage and the overall condition of your chimney. During our inspection, one of our CSIA-certified chimney technicians will assess the damage and come up with a plan to repair the firebox so that you can get back to using your fireplace worry-free.
These are a few things we may suggest:
- Fix chimney leaks. If water damage is the culprit of your firebox issues, we will have to locate the source of the leak. Damaged or missing chimney crowns, caps, and flashing are the usual suspects when there’s water infiltration.
- Repair cracks. If we find cracks in the fire brick or mortar joints, we’ll employ a specialized refractory mortar or cement to fill them in.
- Replace severely damaged bricks. There may be times when some firebricks are too far gone to fill in. All hope isn’t lost though. We can carefully remove those bricks and replace them with new ones to reinforce your firebox.
- Get new refractory panels. Compromised refractory panels are primarily a problem in prefab fireboxes. If the panels are damaged, we can replace them to restore the firebox’s efficiency and safety.
- Repointing mortar joints. Deteriorated mortar joints can be repointed, meaning the old mortar is removed and replaced with new mortar. This helps to prevent smoke and heat leakage.
When Should I Replace My Firebox?
Although firebrick is stronger than the common red brick you’d typically find on the chimney’s exterior, it still needs regular maintenance. With annual inspections and cleanings, your masonry firebox can last a lifetime. As long as you keep up with a maintenance plan and get repairs done promptly, there’s a good chance you won’t ever need to replace the firebox.
What about a firebox in a prefab fireplace? Unfortunately, prefab units don’t have the same lifespan as a masonry firebox, typically lasting anywhere from 10 to 30 years. That amount of time can change depending on how often the fireplace is used, how it’s cared for, and if the technician installed it correctly.
Does Lords Chimney Provide Firebox Repair Services Near Me?
Lords Chimney is a local company and we’re proud to serve residents throughout Houston and Beaumont. We travel all over the area and have clients in Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Austin County, Galveston County, Wharton County, Jefferson County, Orange County, and Hardin County.
Don’t see your county on this list? That doesn’t mean you can’t become part of the Lords Chimney family. Reach out to us and speak with one of our customer service representatives – we may be able to come your way for an additional fee.
Ready To Get Started? Our Experienced Chimney Technicians Are Here To Help
The firebox is the part of your chimney where the magic happens – and it’s also the area of the fireplace that takes on the most heat. Make sure it gets the care it needs so that your chimney is performing as safely as possible in the years ahead.
Schedule a chimney inspection with Lords Chimney by giving us a call at 281-497-4000 or by requesting an appointment online. If your firebox has to be repaired, we’re the chimney service company you can trust to tackle the job.