Fire has been a vital part of human development since the first caveman started a fire and discovered its amazing properties. They were able to cook food, create warmth, create light, and ward off dangerous animals. They had the initial learning curve that included teaching children that fire was a valuable tool, but it could be very dangerous if not given due respect. Today’s humanoids don’t necessarily use fire in the same ways cavemen did, but we still have to respect fire and avoid dangerous situations.

The first residential fireplaces were fire pits in classical Greek and Roman homes. They efficiently warmed the home, but smoke and soot simply rose through a hole in the roof instead of being directed through a chimney. Count Rumford, a nobleman from Europe in the 1800s made several improvements to the residential fireplace and chimney. These units required specific proper installation in order to function properly.

Fireplace and chimney design have come a long way since the beginning, but we still have to pay close attention to installation and maintenance; which finally brings us to the purpose of this post. Let’s take a look at factory-build fireplaces and how you can properly care for and maintain them.

Factory-Built Fireplace and Chimney Units

Factory-built fireplaces are built in a factory and generally made of metal. They’re very efficiently built and may be comprised of insulated walls, glass doors, and blowers. They are specifically designed for use with a chimney system that is also factory built. Both units are often safety tested and sold together as a package deal to ensure that they work perfectly together.

Heat Circulation

All fireplaces produce radiant heat, but some use a fan system to blow heat throughout the room. Some use an air circulation method that directs air along the hot walls of the fireplace and then pushes it out into the area to be heated.

The Difference in Construction between Factory Built and Masonry

Masonry fireplaces are very heavy due to the materials used in their construction. Mortar, brick, block, or stone require a concrete foundation in order to properly and meet safety codes. Traditional fireplaces must be built a specific distance away from combustible materials such as walls and studs. Factory-built units may be placed closer to those materials, making them a nice, space-saving option. Some of the newest options only need a few inches of clearance.

Correct Installation is a Must

You will need a building permit before installing a factory-built fireplace. All safety codes must be adhered to during the installation process. A fireplace isn’t exactly a small appliance that can be removed to ensure that proper installation methods were followed to the letter in case of a home inspection.

Chimney Inspections

Take a look at part two of this miniseries to see if we’ve thoroughly answered all of your questions. We perform all types of chimney inspections for both traditional fireplaces and factory-built fireplaces as well. The chimney performs the same function for each unit and the safety of your family and home depend on proper maintenance and regular inspections. Call Lou Curley’s Chimney Service at 610-626-2439 to schedule an inspection or chimney cleaning with one of our CSIA Certified chimney sweeps.