As winter weather approaches, we know a lot of people are eager to put their fireplace to good use. There’s nothing like a warm fire on a chilly day, but it’s important to ensure that your fireplace is as ready for winter as you are.

Ask yourself, is your firebox ready for winter? If you’re unfamiliar with the term, the firebox is the area of your fireplace where you actually build and light the fire. The fire bricks and refractory mortar used in the firebox help ensure that the heat from the fire gets reflected into the room while protecting the fireplace itself from the flames.

Because of the high temperatures, the brick and mortar can deteriorate over time. A few factors can lead to faster deterioration such as water infiltration, damage from falling trees or severe storms or even just improper construction.

A professional chimney sweep will tell you about any problems spotted during cleaning and maintenance, and you should take these suggestions seriously — a firebox that isn’t in tiptop shape can lead to a host of problems, including house fires or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Sometimes it won’t even take a professional to see these issues, though we do recommend you have a professional chimney sweep clean and inspect your fireplace and chimney at least once a year. However, you can take a look in your firebox yourself and check for signs of problems — while you shouldn’t neglect professional inspection, if any of the bricks have cracks, or you notice any gaps or cracks in the mortar, you likely need some firebox repairs before you use your fireplace.

We have worked on a lot of fireboxes over the years, and the repairs have ranged from minor work to complete replacement. Though every home is different, as a general rule firebox repairs fall into four categories.

1. Tuckpointing the existing fire bricks
If the bricks in the firebox haven’t suffered any damage, you may simply need the mortar replaced. In this case, we often recommend tuckpointing the existing firebox with new refractory mortar.

2. Minor brick replacement
If the overall structure looks good, but one or two bricks have sustained some kind of damage, we may recommend replacing the damaged fire bricks while tuckpointing the mortar as necessary.

3. Installing a firebox insert
If the firebox has significant issues, you can opt to install a firebox insert. This will simply fit directly into the space where the previous firebox was, replacing the traditional masonry with a steel box.

4. Replacing the firebox with new masonry
If you prefer the look and feel of traditional masonry, Ray Arnold Masonry & General Contracting can replace your old firebox with new fire brick and mortar. This also gives you the opportunity to consider a new look for your fireplace, with different options for design and color.

Do you need to repair your firebox, or would it be better to simply have it replaced? The best way to know for sure is to bring in the experts from Ray Arnold Masonry & General Contracting. We can show you whatever firebox problems you may have and help you choose the best option for fixing or replacement. We’ve served the Geauga and Eastern Cuyahoga County area of Ohio for almost 70 years; we bring all of that experience to every job and can’t wait to help you make the most of your fireplace.

Old man winter is on his way, so if you think you need any firebox, fireplace or chimney repair or maintenance, now is the time to reach out. Feel free to give us a call at 440-834-8252 or request a quote with our Contact Form.