Mark Scanlon Masonry builds custom fireplaces in styles that are sure to please and to add warmth to any interior space.
Anatomy of a Fireplace
When most people think of chimneys, they think of fireplaces. Memories of cold winter evenings, relaxed and cozy in front of a crackling fire are hard to beat. Since the dawn of time, families have gathered around the open fire for a sense of safety and community, and the fireplace is still the focus of family living in many homes, especially around the holidays.
But in spite of all the glowing aesthetics, there are some practical considerations. When you’re dealing with an element as capricious and potentially dangerous as fire, knowledge really is power, so please read on to learn how to make your fireplace both safer and more enjoyable.
Let’s start with a quick anatomy lesson, and a brief explanation of the types of fireplaces available.
Fireplaces come in two general types, masonry fireplaces built entirely of bricks, blocks or stone and mortar, and factory built fireplaces consisting of a lightweight metal firebox and a metal chimney. (There are a few hybrids too, the most common being a heavy metal firebox and smoke chamber coupled to a regular brick chimney).
A masonry fireplace has a firebox built of individual generally yellowish firebrick, a brick chimney above the roof, and if you look up past the damper you will see a roughly pyramid shaped affair also built of brick. A prefab fireplace generally has a firebox of cast refractory panels, and usually some metal is visible in the room all around the firebox. If you look up past the damper you will see a round metal chimney. And above the roof is more round metal chimney, sometimes surrounded by a simulated brick housing.
Although basically similar, there are some important differences.
Masonry fireplaces, built entirely of bricks, blocks or stone and mortar, are massive structures often weighing between 6 and 7 tons! They are aesthetically pleasing, long lasting, and add real value to your home. With a little care and periodic maintenance they can literally give you a lifetime of enjoyment.
THE RISKS OF PREFAB FIREPLACES
Many prefab chimneys, especially older units with an imitation brick housing above the roof, seem to be a preferred nesting site for birds in many areas. This nesting can catch fire directly, or it can block critical air passageways of the metal chimney pipe, allowing the chimney to overheat. Both scenarios routinely cause house fires.
Finally, prefab fireplace systems eventually just plain wear out. Models go out of production and manufacturers go out of business. A factory-built unit will reach the end of is useful life when repair of the unit is no longer possible, particularly if the components that are necessary to maintain the listing are no longer available.
We build fireplace to any height, size and configuration, adding value to any home as well as providing a means for exhaust gasses to escape your space safely. Our construction at Mark Scanlon Masonry goes beyond code with materials that resist the elements and hold together longer.