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What’s Different about Factory-Built Fireplaces, as Compared with Masonry Fireplaces?

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A masonry fireplace will most likely last longer than a factory-built fireplace.

It’s possible to enjoy virtually all the pleasures and benefits of a fireplace, even if there is no chimney in your home.  In the absence of a masonry fireplace, you can install a factory-built fireplace. Chimneys and masonry fireplaces are built at the same time a home is built.  Fireplaces are inspected to ensure they are up to code and meet applicable building requirements. Factory-built fireplaces, on the other hand, are manufactured in factories.  They also are subject to regulations and must be built according to applicable engineering codes.

The most critical factor in regards to factory-built fireplaces for a homeowner is installation.  They must be installed properly, for safe operation of these appliances.  Our chimney sweeps are trained and qualified to professionally install factory-built fireplaces according to safety codes.  Each installation is made strictly according to the particular manufacturers’ instructions.

If you don’t know much about factory-built fireplaces other than where they originate, the following information outlining basic differences between factory-built and masonry fireplaces should help.


A masonry fireplace and chimney will typically last quite a bit longer than a factory-built fireplace.

Factory-built units can last for many years.  They ultimately need to be replaced at some point.  What usually happens is that various replacement parts are no longer available, to keep the unit in safe operating condition.

Replacement Expenses

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Factory-built fireplaces are inexpensive and versatile in the many places they can be installed.

Repairing a fireplace and chimney can be expensive.  If the flue becomes cracked, a new lining must be installed; otherwise, the heat which penetrates into combustible areas can start a house fire.  Many people today are choosing to buy stainless steel chimney liners, since they typically come with a lifetime warranty.

The bricks and mortar of a fireplace and chimney may begin to crumble over the span of many years, and the repair costs are high. Regular maintenance and the application of water repellent coating will help keep the chimney sound and reduce deterioration caused by weather

On the other hand, factory-built fireplaces are comparatively very inexpensive to replace.  You can likely replace the entire appliance for less than you would pay to repair a masonry fireplace and chimney.


Insulation is a major difference between a masonry and a factory-built fireplace.  Factory-built fireplaces are so well insulated that they can typically be installed just inches away from combustible materials.  Most are constructed of metal and include glass doors, insulated walls, air-cooled pipes, and blowers which move the heat produced by the fire into the room.

The chimneys which come with the factory-built fireplaces are especially constructed to work safely and most efficiently with the heating unit.  Be aware that it’s extremely dangerous to use a chimney which doesn’t meet the specifications outlined by the manufacturer.  Do not assume that you can channel the factory-built chimney up an existing masonry chimney, because that’s quite possibly not the case.

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Many masonry fireplaces can easily be converted with a factory-built fireplace insert.

Some models of factory-built fireplaces do not include blowers; they operate with the standard radiant heat method, which isn’t as effective in circulating heat.

Insulation is the primary reason open masonry fireplaces are typically not as efficient as factory-built fireplaces, when it comes to heating a room.

While a concrete foundation is necessary for a fireplace, that’s not the case for factory-built models.  As mentioned previously, factory-built units are far better insulated and there are many options for where they can be installed in a home.

Accessibility of a Fireplace Insert

You can install a fireplace insert in a fireplace, but that is rarely the case with a factory-built unit.  The only exception would be if there is an insert which was specifically designed and tested to be installed in a particular factory-built fireplace.

Whether you prefer a masonry fireplace or the sleek look of a factory-built model, we can help you learn about the options you have. Let our professional chimney sweeps handle your maintenance, inspection, repair, and installation needs, whether you have a masonry fireplace or a factory-built unit.

Northeastern Chimney, Inc
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110
Phone: 860-233-5770

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