Prefabricated or factory built fireplaces can be a cost effective alternative to a custom built masonry fireplace. However, there are a number of safety considerations that need to be taken into consideration with a prefabricated fireplace.
One major safety concern that is unique to factory built fireplaces is the need to have an enclosed chimney chase with firestop in the attic. Many homes with fireplaces built before 1992 may be missing these important safety features; because of this, it is important to have your prefabricated chimney inspected to ensure it is compliant with current safety standards.
Firestops are one of the most common safety standards used to prevent house fires from spreading. While used with fireplaces and chimneys, firestops are also used with pipes and wires throughout your home. Firestops are placed around the outside of pipes or wires as they pass through walls or openings; doing this helps contain and prevent fire from spreading in the event of an accidental fire.
Common fireplace firestops
There are two kinds of firestops that are most frequently used with residential fireplaces.
- Firestop mortar: Firestop mortars are not made of the same mortar as the rest of your chimney. These firestops are light weight, low density products that are molded around openings and pipes; this allows them to both insulate openings and create a fireproof barrier.
- Intumescent: Intumescent firestops are made of materials such as graphite, hydrates, or sodium silicates. When exposed to heat, these materials expand to cover and protect surrounding materials. Intumescent firestops are often used to cover wires and cables, while intumescent pillows can be used as insulation along with other firestop materials.
Insulating your factory built fireplace
Many of us have chimneys that pass through an attic or crawl space before venting to the outside. If your factory built fireplace passes through an attic, it is important to have it professionally evaluated to ensure it meets current standards for enclosures and firestops; this is especially true with homes built before 1992.
Enclosed chases and adding firestops to chimneys can help reduce accidental house fires. Enclosing the chase ensures that no surrounding building materials – or other materials that are being stored in the attic – are exposed to the extremely high temperatures of the chimney. This provides protection against and can help stop the spread of accidental fire.
Older homes may not have properly insulated and firestopped chases. Prior to 1992, the Uniform Building Code did not require chimney chases to be enclosed. Because of this, many homes built before this era do not meet current safety standards; because of their location in the attic, even home inspectors may overlook this safety standard.
In order to ensure your factory built fireplace is up to code, you should have it inspected by a certified chimney sweep. A chimney sweep will be able to tell you if your current prefabricated chimney chase meets current safety standards or needs to be enclosed or have firestops added.
Having your factory built fireplace chase enclosed is an important part of fireplace safety. To ensure your chimney chase is correctly enclosed and has the right firestops, start an appointment with New Buck Chimney Services today!