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What Are Refractory Panels?

Your firebox has to be tough enough to withstand the extremely high temperatures produced from your fireplace. To make sure your firebox is durable enough to stand up to this, its walls are made of refractory panels. Even though refractory panels are built to last for years, time can take a toll on it.

When cracks start to appear in these panels, your home is at a higher risk for accidental fires from heat transfer. You could also experience carbon monoxide leaks in your home through these cracks. When All Seasons Chimney inspects chimneys and fireplaces, we take a close look at the refractory panels in every firebox. For over 25 years, we have been providing the Hudson Valley area with superior professional chimney and fireplace maintenance, repair, and installation services. You can trust us to keep you and your family safe from fire hazards!

What exactly are refractory panels and how do they work?

fireplace with a nice fireYour firebox needs extra protection against the hot temperatures of a fire. Refractory panels help to keep your home safe from an accidental fire. If you have a masonry fireplace, then refractory panels are constructed from heat resistant bricks and mortar. If you have a factory-built fireplace, the panels are made from stainless steel or other metal. Typically, each firebox has four refractory panels that line the side and back walls. Another function of refractory panels is to reflect the heat from the fire back into your home to provide warmth.

What do I do if my refractory panels are cracked?

As soon as you notice a crack or damage to a refractory panel in your firebox, you should give us a call at All Seasons Chimney. A cracked refractory panel is a dangerous fire hazard in your home. The heat from a fire can easily transfer to the combustible parts of your home through any cracks or gaps, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). Our CSIA-certified chimney professionals will inspect the condition of your firebox.

When we repair your damaged refractory panel, we will give you a fair and honest estimate. If we find that the panel is beyond repair, we can construct and install a new refractory panel to give your firebox the best protection. We only use the best refractory bricks and mortar when building these panels so you can depend on them for years to come.

Have you noticed a crack in your firebox? Don’t hesitate to contact us today at All Seasons Chimney to schedule an appointment for our professional firebox repair services. Our professionals can install the best and most durable refractory panels!

When to Replace Refractory Panels

Winter is just around the corner, and weather experts have forecasted another brutal winter. After the frigid 2013 to 2014 winter, everyone has staying warm on their minds. Keeping warm means bundling up in a jacket, scarf, and hat when heading outside. However, keeping warm has different requirements for those staying indoors. In many homes throughout Hudson Valley, a fireplace plays a big role in warming up the space. With increasing popularity, homeowners are having factory built fireplaces installed as new additions or in place of old, degraded fireplaces.


A factory built fireplace is exactly what it sounds like: a firebox unit manufactured off-site and brought to a home for installation. The lightweight materials allow for easier installation than a masonry fireplace and chimney because it has fewer foundation requirements. A factory built fireplace also costs significantly less than a custom made or masonry fireplace since the factory built units are mass produced.

Generally made of metal, factory built fireplaces have special insulated walls. These walls protect any nearby combustibles, like woodwork and drywall, from experiencing excess heat from the fire. On top of these walls lay decorative panels that are visible from the inside of the room. The panels, known as refractory panels, can have different colors, designs, and textures to help customize the look of a factory built fireplace.

Refractory panels serve two main purposes. The most important purpose is protection as part of the insulative barrier between the home and the fire. It takes the brunt of the fire’s heat and stands up to the high temperatures fire after fire. Without these panels, unintentional house fires become a very real risk. Refractory panels also direct heat into the home, as suggested by the name. The panels sit on angles designed to direct the fast-moving hot air into the house. This increases the efficiency of the fireplace significantly, meaning you spend less money because the fire uses less fuel to create more heat.

Because of the extreme environment of the refractory panels, they do require regular inspection and even replacement to keep the fireplace functioning safely. An expert chimney inspector can help you determine if the panels need replacement, but you can also keep an eye out, as well. If the refractory panels show any obvious signs of damage like holes, cracks, or a crumbling surface, the panels should be replaced before lighting another fire. Experts also recommend switching out the old panels if a nickel on its end can slide in between two panels. While this may be tougher to determine, if more than a quarter inch of the surface has worn off the panel, it is too thin and needs replacement.

If you live in the lower Hudson Valley area of New York and have a factory-built fireplace, have an inspector out soon to check the condition of the refractory panels. An annual inspection is recommended anyway, so you can ask then. For an inspector in your area, contact All Seasons Chimney to speak with a professional.