Masonry Firebox Repair

The masonry firebox is the box that surrounds the flames. It’s at the base of your chimney. After a while, the firebricks get wear and tear, and it may be time for a repair.

Here is a before and after masonry firebox repair we recently did.

before and after masonry firebox repair

Smoke Chamber Repair

The smoke from your fireplace needs a place to escape. Otherwise, things could get dangerous, fast. A smoke chamber repair includes sealing gaps or voids in the chamber so that smoke has a smooth passageway to exit your chimney.

The black stains is soot from hot gases leaking through crack getting close to combustibles.


smoke chamber

Zero Clearance Fireplaces

Factory built or zero clearance fireplaces have different design. This type of chimney is easily identified by having stucco or wooden sided chimneys.  Further, this type of fireplace has a metal firebox with refractory panels forming the firebox with a metal flue.  Almost all of these already have a chimney cap, but they are subject to deterioration from the elements and from aging.  Close to beach these rust out and need to be replaced. When parts of the top up there start rusting, rainwater will start becoming an issue.

Another issue is that several of these designs provide a nesting place for birds. Occasionally, screening can be added to prevent this.

Another aspect of these types of fireplaces is that the refractory panels, which form a protective barrier between the fire and metal firebox, can develop cracks in these panels. I might mention that if these cracks are hairline, they are usually not an issue. But most manufacturers of these type fireplaces recommend replacement of panels when crack is large enough to put a coin into crack.

Custom Chimney Chase Cover installed

A chimney chase cover is a chimney topper that is provided for pre-fabricated fireplaces that have wood-framed chimney chases.  Chimney chase covers seal of chase openings, preventing moisture from getting into your chimney and causing thousands of dollars of expensive repairs.  These covers are similar to a lid on a shoe box with a central opening to let smoke and gases escape while sealing the top from moisture getting in.

Here is a recent install we did of a custom chase cover, also known as a custom shroud.

custom chase cover

Glass Fireplace Doors

Custom glass fireplace doors protect your family and home and help prevent heat loss. Here is a recent before and after of glass fireplace doors we installed.

glass doors-before-after

Cracks in a firebox

We get calls frequently about cracks in a firebox.  Cracks depending on where they are and what type of cracking can be potentially hazardous situations or insignificant.  There are about 3 different construction types of fireplaces employed in the last 70-80 years. A virtual assessment can often determine the severity of the situation and type of construction. 

Cracks in a fireboxThis picture shows a fireplace built probably prior to 1980 or so, where there were cracks inside the firebox top front opening. One can see staining where heat was traveling toward the wood combustibles.  Someone removed the lintel and bricks of the the façade (incidentally a terrible idea as someone was looking to remodel).  So, some cracks are potentially dangerous, while others not so much.  But a virtual assessment can often determine the necessity for an in person inspection.

What a Home Buyer Needs to Know About Chimneys and Fireplaces

The National Fire Safety Institute recommends that all chimneys and fireplaces be inspected when a property is sold.

Rachel Ray Home Chimney FireOne of the major causes of home fires in the winter are fireplaces and it is reported that there are about 15,000 house fires caused by fireplaces and chimneys in the U.S. every year.  In 2020 Rachael Ray, TV Host, had her large home burn down, reportedly due to gaps or cracks in the chimney.  This was despite getting the chimneys swept regularly.

Many people, including some chimney sweeps, think that just dropping a handheld mirror down the chimney will detect hazards.  In most cases it will not.  We have been to properties where a chimney sweep had been there before and said the property was safe, but there were major cracks and gaps in the flue which are a severe fire hazard. Read more

What are Pre-Cast Fireplaces and what does a homeowner need to know about them

There are a number of types of Pre-Cast Fireplaces and Chimneys.  The one that is most common in this area is the Rampart General Pre-Cast Fireplaces which were built in Santa Ana from the mid 1960’s to the early 1990’s.  They are often located in neighborhoods with hundreds of these tract homes.

Pre-Cast FireplaceThe chimneys and fireplaces were built at a factory and dropped off at the building site.  They often look like a light tan or off-white painted brick, but that is just the color of the cement.  Sometimes homeowners have painted them for various reason, including to cover cracks.  Sometimes it will look like an antenna has been added, but this is sometimes to stability the chimney. Read more

Chimney Repairs

We recently completed some chimney repair jobs and below are the before and afters.

chimney repair before and afterchimney brick repair

Is your fireplace safe?

Most people seem to think their fireplaces are safe, even though they have not had them cleaned or inspected for years, or even decades. This may not be the case. Over 15,000 home fires a year in the U.S. are attributed to fireplaces and chimneys.

I did a random survey of properties where we cleaned or inspected the chimney and fireplace during a 5 day period last October.

  • 7 if 23 properties inspected were in good condition and only needed cleaning.
  • 7 of the 23 properties had cracks in the flue that were a fire hazard and which required the chimney to be relined.
  • 9 of the properties had other issues such as cracks between bricks that needed repair, cracks in the chimney crown, missing caps/spark arrestors, or faulty control modules on a gas fireplace.

Read more