If a wood stove has been recently fitted inside the plastered shell of an old fireplace (a great spot for it) you may see some cracked plaster after the stove has been used a few dozen times.
Cracks appearing in the plaster close to the stove can be worrying to the homeowner. The plaster may then come away from the wall leaving unsightly holes through which structural brickwork is visible. Step one; Don’t Panic!
How to deal with cracked plaster around a wood burning stove.
The two main reasons why cracks might appear are outlined below.
Firstly take a look at the brickwork. This may entail pulling more plaster away from the wall, but if it is coming away anyway…
You are looking to see if anything more than hairline cracking extends into the brickwork itself. If it does then this is a structural issue. The absolute best advice there is is to stop what you are doing, go straight to the phone and call a structural engineer out to give you a professional opinion. Do this as a matter of urgency and do not relight the fire until a competent professional gives you the all clear. To do so could endanger your property.
Cracked Plaster around a fire is usually just a cosmetic issue
That is the worst case scenario. It is far more likely that you will find the plaster alone is cracked. This is largely a cosmetic issue and not a cause for alarm. As things get hot they expand and different materials expand at different rates. The brick and the plaster don’t expand in total unison, hence the cracks begin to appear.
This cracking usually occurs when the bonding between the previous surface and the new plaster fails. This should not occur and since you are most likely still under warranty so call the company who re-plastered the fireplace and ask them to come back and fix the work.
The best option will be for them to line the walls closest to the wood stove with heatproof boarding. This is a modern safe form of asbestos that should permanently resolve the problem.
If you are not under warranty, then either fill the cracks with polyfilla or get the whole thing re-plastered.
Once the cracks are covered and painted you will forget they were ever there. The problem does not generally recur.