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Is Your Prefab Fireplace Rusting Out?

If your home was built within the past several decades, you likely have a prefabricated, or prefab fireplace and chimney system. This type of system is also known as factory-built, as the chimney and the fireplace are manufactured to be installed and operated as one unit. One of the reasons why prefab fireplaces have grown in popularity is because they produce more heat than the traditional masonry fireplaces.

However, prefab units typically do not last as long as traditional units. A common problem with prefab fireplaces is that they suffer from corrosive damage that can possibly lead to safety hazards. At Atlas Chimney, your safety is our top priority. We would like to tell you more about the importance of having your rusted prefab fireplace repaired or replaced.

How does a prefab fireplace become rusted?

prefab chimneySince a prefab chimney consists of a metal pipe, it is typically concealed by a structure called a chase. Instead of having a masonry crown installed at its top, prefab chimneys have a chase cover to protect your home from water leaks. At Atlas Chimney, we have been working on the chimneys in the Austin area for over 25 years. We have seen our fair share of water damage caused by chase covers. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), water can even rust or deteriorate metal firebox assemblies. It can leak behind the louvers of prefab fireplaces.

Why is a rusted prefab fireplace a possible safety hazard?

You may have heard that prefab fireplaces are dangerous fire hazards. This is because of the cracking that occurs when the firebox refractory panels have been rusted. When these panels are cracked, the extreme heat that is produced by the fires in your prefab fireplace can easily transfer through the cracks to the combustible parts of your home to ignite a devastating house fire. You can count on Atlas Chimney to properly repair cracks in the firebox panels of your prefab fireplace. However, you should consider the age of your unit too. If your prefab fireplace is over 15 years old, we can replace the unit with a new prefab system.

Have you noticed cracks or other signs of rusting on your prefab fireplace? Don’t hesitate to contact us at Atlas Chimney. We will inspect your unit and take care of any repairs to ensure your utmost safety.

Replacing Your Prefab Fireplace

Your fireplace is likely part of a prefabricated or factory-built system if your home was built in the last half of the 20th century. The majority of these systems are made from metal, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), and they come as a complete unit, including the firebox, chimney, flashing, and other parts. You may also have heard prefab fireplaces referred to as Heatilators, a very well-known brand. A prefab fireplace is not built to last forever, and should be replaced once it shows signs of aging. Atlas Chimney’s technicians have years of experience removing old and damaged prefab fireplace systems and replacing them with a long lasting traditional masonry chimney and fireplace system or a new prefab system. Here are a couple of signs that can alert you that it is time to replace your Heatilator or another prefab fireplace.

Cracked Firebox Refractory Panels

The metal walls of the prefab chimney firebox and system can suffer from rusting and other corrosive damage. Once the smallest cracks appear in one of the refractory panels of the firebox, your safety is at risk. The extreme heat produced by a fire can transfer to the wooden structure surrounding the prefab system, igniting a fire. While Atlas Chimney can replace your cracked refractory panels in the firebox, you should consider replacing the entire system. If it is over 10 to 15 years old, system replacement is the safest route. Atlas Chimney can talk to you about the choices you have if you decide to replace your prefab system.

Occurrence of Chimney Fire or Other Destructive Event

Unfortunately, chimney fires in prefabricated systems can easily happen when operated incorrectly. If used excessively, a prefab fireplace can cause a chimney fire, especially if there is any debris in the chimney. The chimney cap and chase cover can also crack from corrosion, allowing wild animals access into the chimney to build nests. Other disasters that can cause serious damage include earthquakes, lightning strikes, and strong wind storms.

Is it time to replace your Heatilator or another prefabricated fireplace system? Contact us at Atlas Chimney to schedule an appointment for a professional chimney inspection. You can trust our CSIA-certified chimney technicians to make an honest recommendation about your prefabricated chimney system.


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