While the exterior masonry of your chimney is designed to stand up to the elements, the interior masonry of the firebox is much more delicate. Although it can withstand extremely high temperatures, the firebox can be easily damaged – and if it is damaged your fireplace may not be safe to use. Luckily, there are a number of ways to start loving your fireplace again; by rebuilding the firebox, you can continue to safely enjoy your fireplace for years to come.
What causes firebox damage?
Fireboxes are built to withstand the high heat and direct flames from a fire; however, they are less able to stand up to other elements and other types of wear and tear. The following are three of the most common causes of firebox damage.
- Using the wrong building materials. There is a specific type of refractory masonry that needs to be used when building fireboxes. If the wrong materials are used, the firebox can quickly deteriorate under exposure to heat and flames. Likewise, many contractors attempt to cut costs by building fireboxes themselves; by not using a mason to correctly build the firebox, it may need more maintenance in the future in order to continue burning safely.
- Moisture. While your exterior chimney might be able to withstand moisture from the elements, the masonry in your firebox cannot. Even small amounts of moisture from a chimney leak – or water being used in an attempt to douse a fire – can cause serious damage to the firebox.
- Settling. Even well built homes – and chimneys – are prone to settling. Over time, a home can shift slightly as the surrounding soil compresses and moves. Known as settling, it can cause cracks to appear within the masonry of the firebox. When this happens, it is often because the footings of the chimney were not built to support the full weight of the fireplace and chimney.
Rebuilding your firebox
No matter what has caused your firebox damage, it is often not safe to use the firebox until it has been repaired. Because of this, it is important to have a chimney professional complete any firebox repairs.
If the refractory panels of your firebox have been damaged, it may be possible to replace them. Doing this can repair the firebox – without the necessity of a full fireplace rebuild. Likewise, replacing damaged refractory panels can help extend the life of the rest of the fireplace while making it more structurally sound.
Damaged masonry in the firebox can also be repaired by tuckpointing. During the tuckpointing process, the deteriorating refractory mortar is carefully removed to avoid damage to the surrounding masonry. Next, new mortar is applied; by replacing only the damaged masonry, the rest of the firebox is unaffected and costly complete replacement can be avoided.
Don’t give up being able to use your fireplace just because the firebox is damaged. Instead, trust Jack Pixley Sweeps to repair or rebuild your firebox! Contact us today for more information on firebox damage or to schedule your firebox repair appointment!