Is a Prefabricated Fireplace Right for Your Montgomery County Home?
Prefabricated fireplaces are a popular choice for home heating, and they can be installed extremely quickly, often within just a few hours. This makes them an ideal fit for new homes. In fact, many homes that have been built in the last 20 to 40 years have a prefabricated fireplace in their space.
That said, while some might tell you that a prefabricated fireplace requires less professional maintenance than a traditional masonry unit, that is not necessarily correct. That National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is clear that all heating and venting appliances or units should have an annual inspection. If that inspection cannot be completed because of the condition of the fireplace, then the fireplace will require a sweeping.
That said, overall, prefabricated fireplaces provide an effective and aesthetically-pleasing way to boost the value and warmth of your space – all without sacrificing quality or longevity.
How Do I Tell if I Have a Prefabricated Fireplace?
Have a fireplace, but aren’t sure if it’s prefab or not? You can look for certain features that are indicative of a pre-manufactured unit. One of the best options is to check for a model and serial number on the unit – many models require verification of installation before turning on the fire. And since prefabricated units need to be installed in accordance with manufacturer guidelines, there is usually additional safety information or outlines provided in the manual – so, be sure to check there too.
Additionally, look for factory-sealed panels, as opposed to mortar joints which are indicative of a masonry fireplace. The presence or absence of these components can help determine whether your fireplace is prefabricated or not.
Another indicator that you have a prefabricated fireplace is the chimney outside. If it is siding, then it’s prefabricated. If it has a chase cover – and not a masonry crown on the top of the chimney – this is also a sign that it’s a prefabricated fireplace.
And, if you just can’t tell, call us and schedule an appointment and we’ll come out and do an inspection.
Why is it important to know if my system is prefab or not?
Knowing if you have a prefabricated fireplace or not is an incredibly important topic. Not only could it impact the type of maintenance that you need to do regularly on your chimney, but it could also be a huge factor when it comes to how well the fireplace itself works – and whether or not it’s safe to use.
An improperly maintained prefabricated fireplace could cause wall fires, excess smoke indoors, and even carbon monoxide poisoning. It is important to know what type of fireplace you have so you understand the nuances associated with its specific care, and so that you can be sure that your family is as safe as possible while enjoying the system.
Another important thing to note is that prefabricated fireplaces have a lifespan much like any other appliance in your home – as opposed to masonry-built one that can last a lifetime. This means, just like your other appliances, depending on the brand, that lifespan may be more or less than the average. For manufactured fireplaces that average is about 20 years.
Why is this important to know? Well, if you bought your home new and have lived in it for 20 years or more then you need to be aware that, depending on usage, it may be time to start looking for a replacement. Or, if you have bought an older home that has a prefabricated fireplace, you’ll want to be aware of how long it has been in use.
Need a Replacement? Book an Inspection With Us
The only way you will know that you are close to needing a fireplace replacement is to get a chimney and venting inspection. Call us at 301-972-9158 and schedule an appointment or you can schedule here online.
We’ll have one of our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified technicians come out and do a thorough inspection and deliver a report to you with photos so you can see for yourself the condition of your unit. If it hasn’t been used much through the years and has not been affected by an event of some sort, you may still have a lot of years of enjoyment before it needs to be replaced.