Since their introduction to the market nearly 25 years ago, modular fireplaces have been seen as a more affordable option to a traditional masonry fireplace. And while modular fireplaces can work safely for decades, they do come with a number of safety risks and hazards.
Even if you have a modular fireplace, is it still important to have an annual chimney cleaning and inspection. Having an inspection ensures that your modular fireplace remains in good condition, free from any damage that could potentially put you and your family at risk.
What is a modular fireplace?
Modular fireplaces are often viewed as less expensive alternatives to full masonry fireplaces. Because they can be installed without the use of a mason, homeowners can save considerable time and money when installing their fireplace.
Modular fireplaces can typically be purchased from a number of big box home improvement stores. Sold in kits that include several large fire bricks along with the chimney and firebox pieces, most modular fireplace pieces are created by compressing lava rock, concrete, and other stones. These pieces can then be fit together at the building site, much like building blocks or Legos. In addition, many online retailers specialize in the sales of modular fireplaces. Units are available in a wide variety of finishes in addition to having the choice of gas or wood as a fuel source.
When choosing to add an outdoor fireplace to their yard or patio area, many homeowners choose modular fireplaces over their masonry counterparts. Because outdoor fireplaces are typically used less, homeowners feel more comfortable installing a less expensive modular unit.
Modular fireplace safety
When regularly cleaned, inspected, and maintained, modular fireplaces can be just as safe as their masonry counterparts. However, sometimes modular fireplace undergo subtle shifting or settling that may impact their performance and safety.
“The reality is that many of those things remain hidden until someone does some serious investigation,” said the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s Director of Education Ashley Eldridge. “It’s not uncommon for a component to get missed. If it comes at no additional cost, nobody’s ever going to notice.”
One prime example of this is the baseplate on which modular fireplaces are installed. If the baseplate becomes cracked or damaged due to issues such as overuse or settling, it can leave the plywood subfloor underneath exposed to the heat from the firebox. If left unrepaired, this can lead to an accidental house fire.
Importance of modular fireplace inspections
In order to ensure that your modular fireplace is safe to use and free from damage, homeowners should have annual chimney and fireplace inspections performed. These inspections can help uncover hidden problems – such as a cracked baseplate – before they become major safety concerns.
If you have a modular fireplace that has not been recently swept or inspected, contact Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney today. Our trained team of certified chimney sweeps can make sure your modular fireplace is clean, safe to use, and free from any hidden safety issues. Serving Littleton, CO and the surrounding areas – call for more information!