Modular Fireplace Safety

Fireplace safety is no joke! Even the smallest crack can cause a house fire.

Fireplace safety is no joke! Even the smallest crack can cause a house fire.

The possible dangers of modular fireplaces has been a hot topic lately in the news due to the recent fire at the home of Ron Rivera, the coach of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Fire investigators discovered that not only was the fireplace improperly installed on a hardwood floor without a metal baseplate, but that the fireplace itself contained deterioration in the form of a hairline crack. Also known as factory-built or prefab fireplaces, modular fireplaces have become popular alternatives to masonry fireplaces over the past 25 years because they are less expensive to build. However, as demonstrated in this incident, the importance of professional installation and maintenance of this type of fireplace is crucial for safety reasons. At Chim Cheree, The Chimney Specialists, we have the experience and knowledge to both maintain and install modular fireplaces. In light of this news story, we would like to share with you some information from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) regarding the care and maintenance of modular fireplaces.

What exactly is a modular fireplace?

Manufactured from an engineered design, modular fireplaces are mainly constructed from metal, rather than masonry materials. Another major difference between a masonry fireplace and a modular fireplace is a factory-built fireplace has a specific chimney made to be used with that specific fireplace. Problems can occur if alterations are made to the structure or if proper installation was not followed.

How can I be sure my modular fireplace was correctly installed?

Local building codes require a building permit before a modular fireplace can be installed. An inspector from the local codes department will examine the fireplace and chimney system to ensure it was built according to codes. If you move into a home with an existing modular fireplace, you should contact a CSIA-certified chimney sweep, such as one of our technicians at Chim Cheree, The Chimney Specialists, to perform an inspection for you to guarantee its safety.

What about cracking damage to the firebox of a modular fireplace?

According to the majority of modular fireplace manufacturers, you should have the refractory panels of the firebox replaced when a nickel can be inserted into the crack or when the surface of the refractory panel has worn more than a quarter inch from the original surface.

What is the safest way to use a modular fireplace?

To ensure safety when using your modular fireplace, the CSIA recommends you have your chimney swept and inspected annually. You should also be sure the damper is completely open when starting a fire and left open until the fire is out. Never overload your modular fireplace or start a fire with liquid fire starters. Do not make any alterations, such as installing a wood stove, to your modular fireplace system without consulting professional chimney technicians.

Have questions about modular fireplace safety? Contact Chim Cheree, The Chimney Specialists to ask our CSIA-certified staff.

By David Kline | Tagged with: Tags: |