Can You Burn Wood in a Prefab Fireplace? (Expert Answer)

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Wondering if you can burn wood in a prefab fireplace? This question is at the forefront for many who are looking to combine the classic charm of a wood fire with the convenience of a prefabricated unit.

In this article, we’ll explore exactly that—can you burn wood in a prefab fireplace? We’ll walk you through the advantages and drawbacks, offer crucial safety advice, and discuss the importance of WETT certification for prefab fireplace owners.

Join us as we dive into the details of using wood in prefab fireplaces, ensuring you’re fully informed to make the best decision for your home.

Can You Burn Wood in a Prefabricated Fireplace?

A prefab fireplace in a newly built room.

Yes, you can, as long as the fireplace is specifically designed for wood burning. It’s important to note that prefab fireplaces are designed to handle small fires, so burning larger wood can damage it. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s guidelines for optimal use. 

Prefab fireplaces come in different types that work for different fuels, including wood, gas, and electricity. If you have a wood-burning type, then it means the fireplace was factory-built to safely vent smoke byproducts from wood combustion.


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Advantages of Burning Wood in a Prefabricated Fireplace

Burning wood in a prefabricated fireplace comes with several benefits. Here are some of them.

  • Lower cost – Prefab fireplaces cost less to buy and install compared to traditional stone and masonry fireplaces. Buying and installing a prefab unit can cost between $1,000 to $5,000. In contrast, getting a masonry fireplace made of bricks or stone can set you back $5,500 to $20,000. For the price of a basic masonry fireplace, you could already get a high-quality prefabricated fireplace.
  • Comfort and aesthetic appeal – Nothing matches the ambiance and warmth that a real wood fire gives. For a friendly price, you can enjoy wood kindling in your fireplace and enhance the visual appeal of your living room. You’re also guaranteed to find one that suits your home decor since this type of fireplace comes with a wide option of styles and finishes. 
  • Environmentally friendly – Prefab fireplaces are designed to burn wood more cleanly than older models, so you get to warm your home while saving the environment.
  • Energy efficient –  Prefab fireplaces are also more efficient, producing a significant amount of heat with less wood, thanks to their engineered design, which improves combustion and heat transfer. These fireplaces are also often made of metal, which can absorb and radiate heat more effectively into the room rather than getting absorbed into the chimney structure.
  • Versatile –  Prefabricated fireplaces can be installed in various areas of the home, including the living room, basement, and even the bedroom. This means you can enjoy a wood-burning fireplace in spaces where a brick fireplace would not be feasible.

Disadvantages of Burning Wood in a Prefabricated Fireplace

Wood burning in a prefab fireplace.

While a wood-burning prefabricated fireplace offers the charm and warmth of a real wood fire, it comes with some disadvantages that homeowners should consider.

  • Fire Hazard – Some prefab fireplaces are not designed to handle the byproducts of wood burning, so you need to install additional accessories, such as glass doors, fireplace screens, and grates, to keep sparks and embers flying out.
    Also, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for operation to avoid prefabricated fireplace problems such as creosote buildup, chimney blockage, and improper ventilation since all these are a fire hazard. 
  • Smoke Production – Burning wood produces smoke and particulate matter, which can affect the air quality of your home. It can be a huge concern for individuals with respiratory conditions and allergies. Moreover, some areas restrict wood burning during certain times of the year as a way to reduce air pollution.  
  • Maintenance Issues – Wood burning produces ash, soot, and creosote, which can accumulate in the chimney and fireplace. You’ll need to clean and maintain it regularly to ensure safe operation. As a general rule, a wood-burning fireplace should be inspected and cleaned at least once a year by a certified chimney sweep. 

Safety Precautions for Using a Prefabricated Fireplace

These are some essential safety precautions for using a prefabricated fireplace. By doing this, you can prevent accidents, maintain efficient operation, and prolong the lifespan of your fireplace.

  • Ensure Proper Air Flow: Before lighting a fire, make sure to open the flue damper so there is enough airflow to create combustion. You also want to keep the area around the fireplace vent and chimney outside free from obstructions so as to maintain good air quality.
  • Use Appropriate Fuel: Only burn fuel that the manufacturers recommend. Always buy dry seasoned wood since these burn more efficiently, minimizing creosote buildup.
  • Regular Maintenance: Get a professional chimney company to check and clean your unit at least once a year. They have plenty of experience with fireplaces and can help identify and address issues such as creosote buildup, structural problems, and ventilation blockages.
  • Safety Features: Check the model of your prefabricated wood fireplace to see what safety features are present and make sure they are working properly. 

You also need to add some safety features of your own, such as a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. These devices are critical for the early detection of dangerous conditions. 

A prefab fireplace.

Also, add a metal mesh screen or glass door to your fireplace to keep sparks and embers from escaping and igniting nearby combustibles.

  • Keep Combustibles Away: All combustible materials, including furniture, curtains, and decorations, should be kept at a safe distance from the fireplace hearth. There should be a clearance of at least 6 inches from the fireplace opening, and the distance from the top of the fireplace opening to the mantel should be at least 12 inches. 
  • Professional Installation: Always adhere to the installation guidelines provided by the manufacturer. This information ensures that you can use the fireplace safely and efficiently. It’s highly recommended to have experienced contractors handle the installation as it involves complying with various safety standards and building codes.

How long can you burn wood in a prefab fireplace?

On average, a prefabricated fireplace can burn wood for about 3 to 5 hours before it needs to be let out to cool down. Some fireplaces are designed for short fires, while others can safely accommodate longer burns.

Always refer to the instructions and recommendations provided by the manufacturer of your prefabricated fireplace. Don’t exceed the time it’s intended to burn so as to avoid overheating and damage to the unit. 

What Does WETT Certified Mean?

WETT Certified

WETT stands for Wood Energy Technology Transfer, and it’s a Canadian non-profit program that certifies professionals in the inspection and maintenance of wood-burning systems.

To ensure safety in your home, it’s highly recommended that you get a WETT-certified professional to inspect your prefab fireplace. They will check it to ensure it’s installed correctly and compliant with local building codes. They’ll also make sure your fireplace runs efficiently and give you advice on how to ensure its smooth operation.

Many insurance companies will only provide coverage to a home with a prefabricated fireplace if it has a WETT certification. If you’re looking to sell your home, a WETT certification can increase the resale value since it shows that your heating system is up to standard. 

The next time you hire a chimney service for your home, ask about WETT certification and whether you can get documentation for your fireplace.


So you just learned the pros and cons of burning wood logs in a prefabricated fireplace and the safety precautions to follow when using it. You also now know how essential a WETT certification is for insurance and home-selling purposes.

As homeowners’ preferences shift towards innovation, efficiency, and sustainability, the market for prefabricated fireplaces will continue to evolve. Expect to see more sophisticated models in the future.

Considering a fireplace upgrade? Schedule a prefab fireplace installation for cozy, hassle-free warmth in no time.

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Thomas Green

Thomas has worked in the Chimney & Fireplace field for over 12 years. He is an expert in his trade and loves to help People with their needs. Thomas Write helpful articles so that homeowners can make the most informed decisions about their fireplace and chimney.