Prefab Chimneys And Fireplaces: Features, Lifespan & Maintenance

Here, we’ll be discussing various aspects of prefab chimneys and fireplaces you need to know. This includes basic tips for buying among other things.

You’ll need to only read through to get all the information you need.  So, are you ready? We are!

Although masonry chimneys are still a thing, prefabricated chimneys and fireplaces have become increasingly popular over the years.

This option has opened up possibilities for homeowners as they get to either remodel or install the prefab chimney system.

About Prefabricated Chimneys and Fireplaces

By their design, prefab chimneys and fireplaces are mostly made of metal and are a clear alternative to masonry chimneys. So, is there a clear favorite between prefabricated chimneys & fireplaces and masonry chimneys?

The answers you get depend on who you ask.

People have varying preferences. This is largely driven by what they think serves them best. However, the utility obtained from both types of chimneys and fireplaces makes them both desirable and hugely popular.

  • Key Features

With the prefab chimney and fireplace, there are fewer chances of water leaks than what obtains with masonry chimneys. So it means you can completely avoid water leakage issues right?

Wrong! Proper maintenance is a key requirement when it comes to prefab chimney and fireplace use.

Chase covers are likely to become damaged, thus leading to leaks.  Sealants around storm covers may also become leaky when prefab chimneys and fireplaces don’t get the needed repairs.

In terms of strength, prefab chimneys won’t come close to masonry chimneys.

This is why such structures may get burnt down or destroyed during a chimney fire. However, all these risks can be minimized by simply carrying out basic maintenance services as often as necessary.

Are There Noticeable Differences?

Prefabricated chimneys and fireplaces are often compared with masonry fireplaces for many reasons.

Most readers will want to know which is more reliable and gives better performance. When talking about differences, you’ll need to take a look at the basic anatomy of a chimney.

A masonry chimney is built on-site while prefab chimneys are factory-built.

As such, it’s normal to find masonry chimneys having quite many parts which may be more than those in a prefab chimney. Such parts include foundation, ash dump, hearth, firebox, damper, and lintel.

Other masonry chimney components include a smoke shelf, smoke chamber, flue, mortar crown, and chimney cap.

For prefab chimneys, the basic anatomy includes parts such as the hearth, fireplace, chimney, firestop, flashing, and chimney cap. This is more of a complete system built to work together.

Unlike Masonry chimneys, prefab chimneys and fireplaces are already tested. Plus, installation instructions need to be followed to the letter. Any slight deviation from such instructions will create a functionality issue.

How Long Do Prefab Chimney & Fireplace Last?

Although prefabricated chimneys and fireplaces may serve for a long time, they won’t last as long as masonry chimneys. In other words, the staying power of these venting systems is limited.

At best, your prefab chimney and fireplace will serve you for about 2 decades with optimal care.

This is a lot less than masonry chimneys and fireplaces which can last up to a century with good maintenance.

However, if you’re looking for temporary solutions and plan on eventually moving out of the property, prefab chimneys will serve just fine.

Who Installs A Prefabricated Chimney?

The performance of prefab chimneys and fireplaces is hinged on proper installation.

As such, only a reputable and experienced technician must perform this task. To install this system, quite a lot of work is required.

This includes assembling multiple pieces of piping, cutting through your roof, installation of gas lines and so many other actions. These require some degree of expertise as any deviation from the norm is likely to result in structural issues.

For homeowners considering DIY alternatives, this isn’t stress worth taking. By leaving such technical installation jobs to the pros, you save yourself the stress and the risk of damaging your structure.

Will Prefab Chimneys and Fireplaces Be a Perfect Fit for my Home?

It’s difficult to say what can or cannot serve a particular structure. All questions about suitability are best answered by professional chimney services.

In a nutshell, prefab chimneys and fireplaces won’t be suitable for every home.

An onsite assessment will need to be performed by an expert to determine what’s suitable or not. It’s important to trust the advice of professionals on what works or what doesn’t.

Maintenance of Prefab Chimneys And Fireplaces

When a prefab chimney is properly installed, it serves the purpose for which it was purchased. However, this chimney and fireplace will only perform in equal proportion to how much maintenance it gets.

In other words, the better the care, the lesser the problems encountered.

There are basic maintenance actions to perform when using a prefab chimney and fireplace. These include avoiding over-use, regular cleaning & maintenance as well as using according to manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Avoid Over-Use

Unlike standard or masonry chimneys, prefab chimneys and fireplaces aren’t built for heavy use. This is seen in their basic design.

With bodies consisting of metal components, it’s difficult to prevent thermal radiation resulting from heavy use. Continued heavy use is likely to take its toll on your structure.

What more? Prefab chimneys and fireplaces don’t come with a heavy-duty cement base. This creates a unique problem as you can’t ignite and sustain big fires for long.

  • Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

This is a basic necessity for maintaining a prefab chimney and fireplace.

During wood combustion, creosote easily accumulates along the cooler surfaces of the flue. When this is ignored, it may eventually ignite and cause significant chimney fires.

All of that can be avoided by simply scheduling a cleaning and other forms of maintenance. Of course, the services of a chimney sweep are essential to carrying out such tasks successfully.

  • Using According to Manufacturer’s Instructions

As systems are built in a factory, prefab chimneys and fireplaces need to be operated based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Your chimney and fireplace are likely to remain efficient as long as you stick to such instructions.

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