Prefabricated or factory built fireplaces are a cost effective alternative to custom built masonry structures. However, these units still need regular maintenance; many homeowners are surprised to find that their prefab chimneys have the same issues as their masonry counterparts.
The lifespan of prefabricated chimneys
While prefabricated chimneys are not flimsily built, they are also not designed to last a lifetime. The average lifespan of a prefabricated chimney is similar to other major appliances; with regular service and maintenance, homeowners can expect their prefabricated chimney to last 20-30 years.
Unlike masonry chimneys, many prefab fireplace systems come with a warranty. While a warranty can give homeowners peace of mind about future maintenance costs, it may come with some stipulations. Many prefab chimney warranties have very strict terms and conditions; for example, damage caused by extreme weather may not be covered under the warranty. However, chimney services caused by major equipment failure are often covered. To see if you can be reimbursed for the cost of maintenance or materials, ask your chimney sweep to help you check your warranty.
Common prefabricated chimney issues
How long your prefabricated chimney lasts and what kind of maintenance it will need often depends on use. Prefab fireplaces that are used frequently throughout the year will deteriorate at a faster rate than those that are only lit once or twice per year. However, how much maintenance your prefab chimney receives can seriously impact how long it can last.
One of the most common issues associated with prefabricated chimneys is damage to the chimney chase cover. The chase cover is the metal top of the chimney that protects the flue from moisture, debris, and animal entry. Inexpensive aluminum chase covers may begin to rust after years of exposure to the elements; this often presents as staining on the sides of the chimney.
Missing termination caps are another common prefab chimney issue. Unfortunately, this problem – and many other chimney issues – can only be uncovered during a chimney inspection. Because of this, regular chimney service is an important part of keeping your prefab chimney burning safely and efficiently.
Prefabricated chimney services
Your prefabricated chimney needs many of the same services as their masonry counterparts. One of the best ways to improve the lifespan of your prefab chimney and keep it burning safely is to have the chimney swept and inspected at least once per year. Chimney sweeping removes buildups of soot, ash, and creosote in the flue; this makes the fireplace safer to use and significantly reduces the risk of chimney fire.
A chimney inspection is an especially important part of servicing your prefab chimney. Inspections are an important diagnostic tool used to evaluate the overall health of your chimney system; regular inspections can help your chimney sweep identify areas of damage or deterioration before they turn into major problems.
Don’t neglect your prefabricated fireplace – it still needs regular maintenance in order to burn safely and efficiently! Contact Mason’s Chimney Service today for more information on servicing prefab chimneys.