Comparing a Masonry Fireplace & Factory-Built Fireplace
A warm fire is a pleasure in any home, whether it’s built in a traditional fireplace or a factory-built fireplace. It helps to weigh the pros and cons of the two styles of fireplaces, if you’re considering between them for a remodel or if you’re building a home. The following can help you decide whether a masonry fireplace or a factory-built fireplace is the most beneficial option for you.
No doubt the most obvious difference between a traditional fireplace and a factory-built fireplace is where and how they are built. A masonry fireplace is built as part of a home’s structure, whether during original construction or in a remodel. Brick, stone, and concrete blocks are the typical materials used in masonry fireplaces, and they are built on a sturdy concrete foundation. Every municipality has codes dictating specific requirement for fireplaces, and it’s important that a fireplace is built to code. One requirement of all modern fireplaces is that the chimney be built with a flue lining, which is important for preventing house fires. If you buy an older home that has a traditional fireplace, it’s possible that it will need to have a chimney liner installed.
Factory-built fireplaces are, as implied by the name, built in a factory. The construction materials used are usually metal, glass, insulated walls, and air-cooled pipes. An add-on feature that many opt for is blowers, which push heated air into the room. The design of factory-built fireplaces can vary greatly, though they are also regulated by municipal codes as well as engineering codes. These appliances are extremely well insulated, and there are usually many options of where to safely install them.
Traditional masonry fireplaces have the worst record of efficiency, among solid fuel burning appliances. The bottom line is that traditional fireplaces are beloved for their aesthetic appeal and in spite of their minimal ability to provide heat. Most of the heat from a fire in a masonry fireplace goes up the chimney. It’s possible that an experienced builder can use techniques to improve the efficiency of an open hearth fireplace, but there’s still no real comparison between a traditional fireplace and a modern appliance, as regards efficiency.
Factory-built fireplaces are highly efficient appliances. They are specifically designed to burn fires that are cleaner and hotter, which results in the use of less fuel. The appliances burn up more ash and combustion gas, and top-of-the-line models are designated by the EPA as smoke-free appliances. Anyone who likes to make environmentally friendly decisions and investments will want to go with a factory-built fireplace.
A masonry fireplace is far more expensive than a factory-built fireplace. It is built into the structure of a home and, if built properly, will easily last a century or more. The cost to repair a traditional fireplace also carries a high price tag, which is just one of the reasons to be sure and properly maintain the fireplace and chimney.
Factory-built fireplaces are highly affordable, in comparison to a masonry fireplace. Whether installing, repairing, or replacing a factory-built fireplace, the cost is not usually prohibitive. Wear and tear are usually the cause for needed repair. It’s not unusual for replacement parts to be unavailable for time-worn factory built fireplaces, which can last about 40 years.
Contact our skilled chimney technicians if you have any questions about which appliance to choose for your home. We offer professional installation as well as maintenance.