Santa's Friend Chimney Service

Is It Time to Replace Your Firebox Refractory Panels?


If you have a prefabricated (also known as a factory-made) fireplace, your firebox is surrounded by refractory panels on its sides and bottom. Although a prefab firebox is mostly constructed from metal, these panels are made to withstand high temperatures and add strength and durability to your firebox. A crucial component of the factory-made firebox, refractory panels are built to last for years; however, due to the stress of exposure to repeated fires during a cold, long winter, these panels eventually begin to wear out. Santa’s Friend Chimney Service strongly recommends replacing your firebox panels when they start to show signs of wear, such as cracks or breaks in the panels. Burning fires in a prefab firebox with damaged refractory panels can be dangerous, so replacing these panels at the first signs of wear is important to the safety of your family and your home. We would like to answer some questions about firebox panel replacement to inform you of why it is necessary to perform this maintenance task.

Replacing Firebox Panels - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

Why are cracks and chips in firebox refractory panels so dangerous?

Firstly, toxic gases like carbon monoxide can leak through these breaks and cracks and enter your home. Since carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless, it can be impossible to detect a leak without a carbon monoxide detector alarm installed in the home. Prolonged exposure to this gas can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, which can cause organ damage and even death. Secondly, cracks in your firebox refractory panels can be a fire hazard. Cracks allow heat and debris to become close enough to the combustible materials around your fireplace to ignite a fire that could possibly destroy your home.

What causes the cracks and breaks in firebox refractory panels?

Numerous things can contribute to the wear and tear of your firebox refractory panels. Exposure to repeated fires and their high temperatures is the typical cause of the cracking and breaking of firebox panels. However, user error can also lead to damaged refractory panels. Always be careful when loading your firebox with firewood. If you just toss a log onto the fire, chances are you will eventually cause the panels to crack. A heavy object hitting the extremely hot refractory panels over and over can be very damaging. Your fireplace grates can also play a role in the cracking of your firebox refractory panels as some grates scrape the back wall and cause spots in the panels. These spots become weaker over time and will begin to crack.

How do I know if my firebox refractory panels need to be replaced?

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), most prefab fireplace manufacturers require replacing the firebox refractory panels when a nickel, on end, can fit into a crack in the panel or when the surface of the firebox panel has abraded more than ¼” from its original surface. The CSIA also recommends you have a professional like our chimney technicians replace the firebox panels for you as it is very important that you have the correctly-sized panels installed.

Have more questions about firebox refractory panel replacement? Contact Santa’s Friend Chimney Service today, especially if you have noticed cracks in your firebox panels.

By on January 16th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment


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