Chimney Fireplace Repair FAQs
A fireplace and chimney can bring a lot of character to a home, but the fact is that few homeowners know much about proper chimney care. The most important thing to remember is that working with chimneys is dangerous work, so any chimney or fireplace repair job should only be tackled by a professional. Still, we find that many homeowners would like to know more about their chimneys. Below are some of the more common questions people have about chimney repair.
Do I need to replace the entire firebox if it is cracked?
Firebox replacement needs will depend on a few factors. First, it depends on what type of fireplace you have. If you have a prefabricated fireplace, your manufacturer will have certain requirements, so it’s best to check your owner’s manual or call the manufacturing company for advice. In many cases, only the cracked or worn refractory panels need to be replaced, but this should be done by a certified chimney technician. The panels will need to be cut and sized properly, and in some cases, multiple panels need to be fit together. If you have a masonry fireplace, you may need a service technician to re–point the mortar and bricks to repair and restore the original masonry work, but chimney fires may result in a need to replace or rebuild the entire firebox.
Why does my chimney need water repellant?
Many masonry chimneys require some type of breathable water protection to keep water from penetrating the mortar joints between the brick or stone. Insufficient water protection will ultimately cause cracking over time. Once the mortar breaks down it can cause leaks and eventually lead to a leaning chimney, which is dangerous and expensive to repair. If your chimney was sealed with the wrong type of waterproofing agent, it can trap the existing moisture in the masonry causing the water to condense and expand as it freezes and thaws. Even small cracks will get worse over time, but especially if they are treated with a non–permeable sealant.
How soon can I use my fireplace after a chimney fire?
If you’ve had a chimney fire, do not use your fireplace until the chimney has been cleaned and inspected by a professional. Tile and clay liners are particularly susceptible to extreme heat, so when there’s a chimney fire, they usually need to be restored or replaced. Stainless steel liners are recommended for wood burning appliances and gas inserts since they can withstand heat and will not crack. When there are cracks or holes in clay liners, the liner cannot protect the surrounding walls and ceilings. One spark can cause a dangerous house fire if it hits flammable insulation or other construction materials. Help prevent the potential for house fires and call an expert before you use your fireplace again. You could make the situation worse if your fireplace is not inspected by a professional.