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The Care & Maintenance of a Factory-Built Fireplace

factory-built fireplace careWhen you buy a home, often it comes with a fireplace that was constructed during the building of the house. Homeowners whose homes don’t have a fireplace often want to have one either installed or built. A popular choice in this case is to bypass the building and go with a factory-built fireplace.

Here are some things you’ll want to know about these pre-fabricated appliances if you’re considering adding a beautiful fireplace to your home.

Factory-built fireplaces differ from masonry units built on-site

Manufactured fireplaces are commonly constructed of metal, although masonry versions are available. Some models come with glass doors, an air-cooled pipe, insulated walls, and blowers to send the heat from the unit into the room. A factory-built fireplace along with its companion chimney is a self-contained system, designed to work together. Much testing is done in the factory to ensure safety, efficiency and compliance to code.

Regardless of the model of fireplace you buy and the fuel it runs on, home heating will be accomplished either through radiant heat (think “radiator”) or warm air blown from the unit.

Laying the foundation . . . or not

The heavy weight of a masonry fireplace requires a concrete foundation. Not so with a factory-built model. In addition, pre-built fireplaces have built-in insulation or cooling spaces, allowing for installation in closer proximity to materials that are combustible.

Factory-built fireplace styles

Pre-made masonry fireplaces are a good choice for some homeowners. They have a listed venting system, unlike field-built fireplaces, and reduced clearance. Factory-built masonry fireplaces will normally outlast their metal counterparts but come with a higher sticker price.

5 tips for running a factory-built (or any other) fireplace

  1. Make sure the damper is fully open before starting your fire. Keep it open until the fire is extinguished.
  2. Don’t use unseasoned (green/wet) wood, which will burn badly and produce a lot of smoke.
  3. Start fires with matches or lighters, not liquid fire starters.
  4. Give logs room to breathe; don’t stack them tightly.
  5. Fires with large quantities of burning paper get extremely hot, so keep paper use to a minimum.

For more safety tips, consult the manufacturer’s paperwork or consult with a fireplace expert.

Are annual inspections still necessary?

Factory Built Fireplace InstallationsNo matter what style of fireplace you have, you need to have it inspected by a professional once a year. This is the recommendation of both the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fire Protection Association.

A well-made factory-built fireplace will provide you with many years of warmth and aesthetic value, as long as it is properly maintained and serviced. When it’s time to install one of these units, always work with a professional with verifiable experience in this discipline.

At Burlington Fireplace of Wisconsin, we’re excited to help homeowners find the perfect factory-built fireplace for their needs. Visit our showroom at 857 Milwaukee Ave. in Burlington, or give us a call at (262) 763-3522.

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