My Fireplace Has Cracks!
The safest thing you can do if you've noticed cracks in your fireplace is to call a professional mason to inspect it. DO NOT use the fireplace until it is inspected as it may be hazardous to do so. Cracks can be indicative of other major issues with the chimney, the foundation of your home, or a number of other serious issues. While uncommon, it's still best to be safe!
If you've noticed cracks in your fireplace bricks, hearth, or even both, it was likely caused by one of these factors:
- The hearth may have been insufficiently reinforced, thus too little rebar, metal mesh, or nothing at all.
- Heat stresses, caused by heating and cooling cycles. (A properly built hearth should have been designed to prevent that)
- Insufficient foundation under the hearth, which might have allowed it to settle.
- Firebricks usually break from too much heat or from logs hitting them one too many times. The fix is merely a replacement.
Someone experienced in seeing these types of problems will know what caused it, and thus what is needed to repair the problem so it doesn't happen again.
For example, it should be obvious that there is no reinforcement at all if the crack allows you to see inside. If there was settling, then one of the pieces will likely be tilted relative to the other. If you do nothing after discovering these cracks, then there are some larger issues to consider beyond pure aesthetics. For instance, the crack will allow the introduction of air into the house from the ground. If there is radon in that air, it could potentially cause lung cancer over a long period of time. While this is not a high probability event, it is possible, and it does happen.
Another common occurence our clients have noticed is a gap forming between the face of the fireplace and metal firebox. You may be even be able to see framing through this gap. The solution for this problem, aside from installing a new fireplace, is to pack it with ceramic wool and place refractory cement over it. However, this problem will reoccur, so you’ll have to “repair the repairs” from time to time just because of the nature of the materials involved. Contact Vortex Restoration today and we'll get you back to burning in your fireplace in no time!