Cracked Fireplace

by Jon Nunan

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Though probably one of the sturdiest structures found in the home, from time to time, and under certain circumstances, fireplace repair is a necessity not just to keep it functional, but to keep your home safe. Though a cracked fireplace will probably not present an immediate safety hazard, it will certainly detract from its visual appeal, and if severe enough, may keep you from using it. Other fireplace elements that are not working properly, however, have been responsible for some of the most destructive fires ever to hit a residence.

Fireplace Repair for a Cracked Wall
If you have a cracked wall and a zero-clearance fireplace, you should be able to just replace the firewall. If you have a regular masonry fireplace, you could possibly add another layer of bricks or firewall material in front of the existing masonry, but that would reduce the size of the firebox and could cause drafting and smoke problems. Homeowners without a lot of experience in brick, stone, or concrete work should probably have a licensed masonry contractor come take a look and recommend the best course of action after a visual inspection.

Fireplace Repair for Chimney Issues
Here is where homeowners should take extra precaution. A chimney or flue problem, if left unchecked, might result in a chimney fire. Chimney fires can be extremely devastating, and cause thousands of dollars worth of damage in a very short amount of time. A malfunctioning flue should be taken care of immediately to reduce the risk of harmful carbon monoxide from entering the home instead of going up the chimney.

The best way to prevent a chimney fire is to have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected regularly. The creosote (a black, gummy residue) that can build up in a chimney is actually flammable; when it ignites, the resulting fire burns hot and fast. By removing this film of creosote, you greatly reduce the likelihood of chimney fires, and the damage they cause.

Brick and Stone Fireplace Repairs
Problems with the actual bricks or stones that make up the visible portions of your fireplace are probably the least likely candidates for fireplace repair. For new homeowners that are looking to remodel an older house, however, there's definitely a chance that the actual masonry elements of the existing fireplace might need a bit of work. In most cases, this is a job better left to a professional.

Many people don't realize the amount of training and expertise that goes into creating even the most simple masonry pieces. If a fireplace you're thinking of remodeling is old enough that the mortar is becoming unstable or bricks or stones are becoming loose, fixing the problem will require a lot of work. In these cases, the skilled hand of an experienced mason is the best tool for the job. Not only will you be sure that your newly renovated fireplace will be structurally sound for many decades to come, but it'll look good, even when there's no fire burning in it!

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.