When Your Firebox Needs to Go

by | Jan 24, 2014 | Fireplace Maintenance

Out of all the appliances and features in the house, the fireplace could be one of the most long-lasting. This can be true for many homeowners, especially when the fireplace is brand new when you moved into the house. This unit might even last you a lifetime without needing replacement. But some may not be so lucky. Sure, old fireplaces that have been there since the nineteenth century have probably stood the test of time, but they still aren’t meant to last forever. Sooner or later you’ll have to face more and more repairs, and eventually a firebox replacement to keep your fireplace functioning properly and safe to use. This could be a tough and challenging predicament.

Luckily, Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service is ready and well-equipped to take on that challenge. With only the most skilled CSIA licensed professionals on the job, you can be assured of quality service, less hassle, and absolutely nothing more to worry about after we’re done. Here, we are proud of how well we take care of our customers. To get you started, read on about some of the basic information regarding fireplace maintenance that we would like our customers to know.

What is a firebox anyway?

Fire Lit in a Firebox - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service
The firebox is the actual area within the fireplace where the fire is ignited. In short, it’s where you burn your wood. This includes the interior walls surrounding the flames as well. The walls are made up of firebricks that are held together by a special kind of plaster designed to endure high heat called refractory mortar. However, many fireboxes have not been constructed using this material. That’s why some fireboxes last longer than others.

Why would I need to repair my firebox?

If in the first place the firebox wasn’t constructed with the right mortar, you can expect that repairs will be a regular thing because cracks will start to appear due to the constant changes in temperature the firebox endured over time. When the mortar breaks apart, it will leave holes that could allow dangerous gases to enter the home or even accidentally start a house fire. But even with the right construction materials, and even if your fireplace was assembled perfectly, there will always be the factor of wear and tear like in any appliance that is frequently used. That is why along with the chimney inspection, the fireplace should also be inspected annually just as the National Fire Protection Association recommends.
How does firebox repair work?

After the inspection you can now determine the condition of the firebox. If the firebricks are all intact then what needs to be done is just tuckpointing. In this process we will carefully remove the old mortar and refill the gaps with new refractory mortar. Most of the time this will do the trick if you have been diligent in keeping with the annual maintenance of the fireplace and chimney.
When is firebox replacement necessary?

If you have encountered bigger problems such as extensive water damage and extreme weather conditions like hurricanes or tornados or maybe an earthquake has recently hit your area, be sure to have your fireplace and chimney inspected immediately to know the extent of damage, if any. Usually these conditions would leave you with no choice but to have your entire firebox replaced to keep it usable and safe. The main indicators to look out for will be crumbling firebricks and large amounts of mortar falling off, leaving a lot of spaces between bricks unfilled. These will tell you that indeed it is time for your firebox to go.

How does firebox replacement work?

To give you a glimpse of what will be done, here are the general steps of firebox replacement:

  • Using a small demolition hammer, remove the bricks of the deteriorated fireplace
  • Clean up the debris to have a clean working canvass
  • Skilled masons will rebuild or redesign your firebox and fireplace according to your preferences and according to certain architectural standards for safety

This can be a very grueling task but allow our experts from Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service to work their magic and in no time you will have your fireplace back, and in better condition, too! We’re CSIA certified and have the ability to address any firebox issues that you might be having.

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