Restoring a Metal Firebox Damaged by Hurricane Katrina
DEAR TIM: My house was flooded with 4' of water during hurricane Katrina on 8-29-05. My built-in wood burning fireplace, which is a metal box, is starting to rust. Can I wire brush the rust and clean with a strong cleaner and avoid having to replace it? Walter B.
DEAR WALTER: You absolutely can clean the firebox and reuse it. The only thing that would be a reason to condemn it is if the metal firebox has developed a crack or hole that would allow embers or hot flue gases to bypass the box and enter anything other than the chimney.
The fire and draft created by a fire will help sanitize the unit. Do not bother to paint the firebox as the heat will destroy most common paints.