Caring for Prefabs 4

Fireplace Pre Fab New Construction Firebox12

The fireplace has certainly changed since its original design so long ago. Improvements have been made since the primitive use of fire containing devices, one of the most recent of which being the factory built or prefabricated fireplace unit. A prefabricated unit, or prefab, is made of metal instead of brick or other masonry materials. A prefab uses insulation, pipes which are cooled by air, and blowers to move the heated air around the house. These systems are very sophisticated and manufactured and listed for use as a unit. Each part is approved by the Underwriters Laboratory to be used in a certain way under certain conditions with other parts that make up the unit.

A prefab doesn’t require a cement base for a foundation like a masonry unit due to how much lighter the prefab is. These systems have either cooling spaces in which air pockets act as insulation or actual insulation which allows the units to be closer to combustibles than would be otherwise.

 

 

Factory Built Fireplace
Prefabs have reduced clearances and can sometimes be housed in wooden chimneys.

Factory built fireplaces generally last until a part needs to be replaced but is no longer manufactured. At this time the prefabricated unit has reached the end of its useful life because it needs that specific part in order to be operated according to UL standards. They must be installed according to manufacturer’s instructions and is not easy to remove in order to conduct an inspection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never install a wood stove into a prefabricated unit, a prefab is meant to be operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions exactly. Similarly, it is not safe to burn paper waste in a prefabricated fireplace unit because of how hot these fires get and how quickly they get so hot. (Since its close to the holidays, please remember that it is not safe to burn your Christmas tree in a prefab either; it produces a similar effect to a paper waste fire.) Also, when operating your prefab, the damper must be completely open and should remain open until the fire is completely out. Prefabs require less clearance than other appliances and are easily to install in most areas of the home because they are so light weight.

Prefab Fireplace Wall Panels

https://youtu.be/MLfY-fKpCAc

Prefab Fireplace Repair and Replacement

https://youtu.be/68_UdeIiWEY

 Replacing a Prefab Fireplace

https://youtu.be/lCWSKSnojWA

Cincinnati Chimney Sweep, Clay Lamb owner of American Chimney Sweep. Executive Producer of Ask the Chimney Sweep Podcasts and YouTube channel.

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

4 Comments

  1. How do you measure a prefab firepalce with a shorter lenght in the back as comparied to the fornt for a one piece grill.?

  2. Clay Lamb

    I believe you’re referencing what I will call the fireplace grate. Having a prefab fireplace I would look for the metal tag that is often riveted on the inside of the firebox, or just behind the screen / glass doors.
    Often these are black and might be a little difficult to find.
    You’re looking for two things the Manufacture as well as the model number.
    I would then suggest going online and hunting for the Mfg to see if the original equipment/parts are still available.
    Your grates could be oversized or to small. Your fireplace grate should have a couple of inches of free space on both the right and left side.
    This may sound a little silly, but remember to put the smaller width of your grate in the back of the firebox! because daily we see our customer’s grate are installed

    Clay Lamb author of:
    http://www.AsktheChimneySweep.com – Youtube Educational Videos
    http://www.FireplaceandChimneySupply.com – Professional grade Chimney products
    http://www.HomeContractorsHQ.com – Contractor Coaching Podcast
    http://www.AmChimney.com – GM @ American Chimney Sweep Cincinnati, OH

  3. Hi, great site.
    Is it possible to to place a new clay pot type chimney cap on a prefab system?
    Thank you.

  4. Clay Lamb

    Nicholas, You might think that my concern is about the weight of the clay pot, but as a chimney service contractor, we will not make any alterations to any prefabricated fireplace or chimney flue system.
    That is unless “that” manufacturer states that it can be altered in a particular manner.
    For me, I need to see those allowable alterations in writing from that manufacture.
    My thinking is, that equipment was originally tested to allow the fireplace and chimney flue to be air cooled. Making certain alteration could potentially block the required venting and air cooling feature of that product.
    To hopefully minimize a manufactures exposure to “possible product liability,”. Let us just say, if bad things were to happen, many manufacturers will put a condition of use, in both their installation manuals and/or product warranties.
    For a manufacturer to obtain a UL listing for any given product, all of its components must be rigorously tested together, in a very controlled laboratory environment. And yes this manufacture had to pay some very big bucks to get that product UL listing.
    I know most people would think “well it is just a chimney pot”, and they look great. But that is not how manufacturers look at today, and when we think of it, it is for good reasoning from their perspective
    … please don’t shot the messenger.
    Regards
    Clay

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