Pre-fabricated or “manufactured” fireplaces are produced and assembled in a factory before being transported and installed by a professional fireplace installer at a particular job site. These fireplaces have been made since the 1960’s and have become popular over the years because of their low cost as compared to a traditional masonry fireplace and chimney. Traditional fireplaces require a flue to take the smoke from the burning fuel outside, whereas pre-fab fireplaces don’t need a brick-and-mortar chimney for venting (some styles don’t even require venting at all).
Pre-Fab Fireplace Components
A pre-fab fireplace is a metal box that can come with or without vents on the top and bottom face of the fireplace, and components consisting of a damper, screen, pre-cast firebrick panels, glass doors, grate, smoke dome, metal chimney, metal chase top, flashing, and rain cap. Some pre-fab fireplaces are designed for wood burning only, others for gas only, and some can be used for both. Most units will work with manufactured gas log sets, which resemble natural logs but are made of long-lasting ceramic instead. Some units are designed with blowers, enabling them to be used to actually heat a room rather than just providing something nice at which to look.
Installation of a Pre-Fab Fireplace
The installation of a pre-fabricated fireplace requires the construction of a surround, the opening of which is designed to allow the metal fireplace to slide into place and attach through the flange on the fireplace. Screws that are run through the metal flange of the fireplace and into the wood of the surround efficiently mount the unit in place. Gas and electric lines run to the fireplace inside of the surround. You should only have a certified chimney professional handle your fireplace
installation, as this is far from a do-it-yourself project; one small mistake could lead to a deadly house fire.
Pre-Fab Fireplace Disclaimer
Keep in mind that a pre-fab fireplace isn’t a masonry fireplace and can’t be treated as such. The fireplace and chimney are a complete system, engineered to work safely and efficiently together; both undergo testing together and are then listed specifically for use with each other. Most are listed as decorative appliances, and only small, ambient fires are to be burned in them because they won’t withstand the abuse a traditional masonry unit can be put through. Like any appliance, the life expectancy of a pre-fab fireplace is approximately 10-15 years as long as there are no damages due to a chimney fire, lightning strike, or other occurrence. When the system does begin nearing the end of its useful life, it’s important to remember that the entire unit will need to be replaced
Pre-fab fireplace designs offer the best of both worlds to homeowners: the safety and convenience of a gas fireplace that is complete with safety features and the romance and atmosphere of a wood-burning fireplace. Cleaning of ashes and soot are replaced with dusting and polishing the metal construction. When you’re dealing with an element as dangerous as fire, you don’t want to take any chances. If you’re considering a pre-fab fireplace or if you currently own one, do your homework. Make sure you understand when (and by whom) your unit was manufactured. Be sure to call Fluesbrothers if you need any help to schedule an appointment online.