The firebox is the insert in your fireplace that’s directly exposed to the flames.
There are two types of fireboxes: masonry or prefabricated.
Repairs typically involve brick, mortar, or panel replacement.
The cost of firebox replacement depends on the size and style of your fireplace.
Always work with certified professionals when it comes to fireplace and chimney repairs.
You were a responsible fireplace owner and booked your local chimney sweep for an inspection before the start of the cozy winter season. Unfortunately, they've spotted a problem with your firebox—the important structure inside your fireplace that houses fire. Depending on your firebox's age, style, and the extent of the issue, repairs could cost between $160 and $750 and total replacement from upwards of $2,500.
What Is a Firebox?
First off, what is a firebox? Within the anatomy of your fireplace, the firebox is the brick-and-mortar area that comes in direct contact with the flame. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), there are two main types of fireboxes: masonry and prefabricated.
Masonry fireboxes are hand-laid with firebrick and fire-resistant mortar. Prefabricated fireboxes include a metal panel that’s built to fit your chimney, which is also typically lined with metal.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Firebox by the Type of the Repair?
Both varieties encounter issues as they age. Masonry fireboxes can shift during foundation settlement, wear down from long-term water damage from rain or snow, and even crack as the mortar weakens. As for prefabricated fireboxes, you can expect issues after just 10 to 15 years, especially if they were used too often.
Because they are all interconnected, keep in mind that a worn firebox will often require repairs to other parts of your fireplace as well, such as the chimney liner, the hearth, or the smoke shelf.
If you notice any signs of wear and tear on your firebox, it’s time to call in a qualified professional to solve the issue. Here are some price ranges to expect for common firebox repairs.
Cost of Common Masonry Firebox Repairs
Your masonry firebox contains high refractory mortar, which is mortar that can withstand extremely high temperatures. When beaten down by years of fire and indirect exposure to rain and snow through your chimney, the space between the masonry, also known as the joints, can crack, settle, or break down.
The tuckpointing processinvolves removing and replacing worn mortar. You can expect to pay $5 to $25 per square foot for this work. The total price tag can range from about $400 to $2,100, depending on the size of the project.
While you will need to hire a mason who specializes in fireplace work, you can estimate the cost of your brickwork project by looking at standard per-square masonry rates. You'll likely pay between $34 to $40 per square foot, including the cost of labor. According to HomeAdvisor, the cost of firebricks—which cost between $0.50 and $1.30—is higher than your standard material.
Cost of Common Prefabricated Firebox Repairs
Prefabricated Panel Replacement Cost
The price of replacing prefabricated panels ranges between $360 and $750. Since the new panels must match the other components of your fireplace system, you won’t have the option to choose a particular brand or variety.
Firebox Replacement Cost
Are you looking to start from scratch and replace your firebox? A complete re-installation will cost between $1,500 to $2,500, with additional costs to attach all of the related parts of the fireplace.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Firebox Near You?
There are many factors to consider when repairing or replacing something as specific as a firebox. You’ll need to budget for the cost of the firebrick, refractory panels, adjoining parts, and, of course, labor, chimney inspections, and building permits. Like many home repair projects, where you live will determine the cost of your final bill.
While specific costs vary widely, take a look at the difference between fireplace repair prices. Hiring a professional in New York City costs an average of $900 while Iowa fireplace jobs range as low as $175. The age of your home, size of your fireplace, and availability of materials will play a large role as well.
What Kind of Firebox Repairs Can I Get on My Budget?
If your firebox needs to be fixed, how do you prepare your budget for the necessary work? Here are some common price ranges to expect for firebox repair and new installations.
$100 to $500
In this price range, you can hire a chimney professional to complete a thorough chimney inspection and a few small fixes. Minor repairs such as replacing masonry bricks, mortar tuckpointing, and even single refractory panel replacement can cost under $500.
$500 to $1,000
Significant mortar tuckpointing, brick replacement, and a full prefabricated panel installation can cost under $1,000, depending on labor costs and the size of your fireplace.
$1,000 to $2,000
For $1,000 to $2,000, you can purchase a new firebox and cover its installation costs. In some cases, the cost of labor, permits, and inspections may also fall within this price range, but it depends on your fireplace design.
$2,000 and Up
Major projects that include hauling away old materials and creating a new structure design will cost upwards of $2,000. If fireplace installers need to repair or replace anything behind the firebox—such as fixing a crack in the flue or restoring bricks in your chimney—you can expect the total bill to fall within this price range.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Firebox Yourself?
Inspecting and repairing a chimney requires highly specialized training. Organizations like the National Fireplace Institute and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) offer certifications for qualified professionals.
In other words, repairing a firebox is not a DIY job. Find a professional chimney repair pro near you who can recommend the best materials and a team of contractors for the job.
Additional Repair and Replacement Cost Breakdown
Most firebox repairs will begin with a professional chimney sweep inspection, which costs an average of $250. Complex inspections that root out major structural damage will cost more, depending on the extent of the work needed.
After inspection costs, plus the price of labor and materials, your bill will break down to:
Necessary construction permit for large projects: Construction permits range anywhere from $150 to $2,000 depending on the size of the project and the local regulations.
Removal of the old fireplace: Take note that full removal of your old fireplace is often a separate fee, ranging between $500 to $2,500. The price depends on whether you require full demolition of the chimney or are only removing parts of the fireplace, such as the flue or the chimney liner.
Debris removal: According to HomeAdvisor, junk hauling professionals will charge between $100 to $800 to remove construction debris.
How Much Do Fireboxes Cost to Install in Each Type of Fireplace?
When it comes to estimating the cost of installing a new firebox, the price will differ based on the type of fireplace. Not only do the different materials affect the price, but experts will also charge you based on the complexity of your fireplace system.
Here are the main types of fireplaces and their average firebox installation costs:
|Type||Average Installation Cost|
|Masonry fireplace firebox||$1,300|
|Wood-burning stove firebox||$1,700|
|Gas fireplace firebox||$2,000|
|Prefabricated fireplace (including full system)||$2,500|
What Factors Influence the Cost to Repair or Replace a Firebox?
If you have an older and more complex fireplace design, the cost to repair your firebox will be more expensive than the price of repairing a firebox in a newer, less complicated fireplace. For example, if you have a grand stone-stacked fireplace in a Victorian home, you may need a restoration specialist to accurately repair or replace your firebox. On the other hand, small and simple prefabricated fireplaces that were installed within the past decade could be an easy and less expensive repair.
Overall, the major cost factors include:
Whether you have a prefabricated or masonry fireplace
The firebox size
The firebox age and the last time it was updated
The extent of the repair and whether you need a full replacement
Where you live
Whether the original prefabricated panels or bricks are still available
FAQs About Firebox Repair Cost
Here are some common concerns specific to repairing or replacing a firebox.
Are masonry fireboxes better than prefabricated ones?
Handbuilt masonry fireplaces are likely what comes to mind when we think about curling up in front of the fire at the end of the day. But bricks in the firebox and chimney tend to be quite heavy, which is not ideal for homes with weak or damaged foundations.
Prefabricated fireboxes come with a full flue and chimney system, cutting down the price and installation time significantly. However, if you need to replace the panels down the line, you are locked into the same model or something very similar.
How do I find the right chimney expert?
When searching for the right chimney expert to handle your firebox repairs or replacement, always ensure that your chimney sweep is CSIA-certified. In addition, make sure that your prospective chimney expert offers customer testimonials and lists proof of their qualifications online. Before work on your firebox begins, ask for proof of liability insurance and request written documentation of your price quote.
What other projects should I do at the same time?
Replacing your firebox may not be a DIY job, but you can still keep your fireplace tidy and safe to avoid further repairs. For example, keep the amount of soot in your fireplace to a minimum in between professional sweeps. Fireplace work is always a great time to have your chimney inspected, as well as your roof, particularly if you recently weathered a major storm or you’re about to embark on a major home renovation.