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  • FIRST POST
    • GloriousEuropa
    • By GloriousEuropa 11th Aug 19, 6:54 PM
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    GloriousEuropa
    Old fireplace/chimney are a mess! Help!
    • #1
    • 11th Aug 19, 6:54 PM
    Old fireplace/chimney are a mess! Help! 11th Aug 19 at 6:54 PM
    It used to have an old back boiler that the plumber took out when fitting entirely new plumbing and heating.

    I was dusting it out last night and noticed inside is an absolute mess. I expected neat brickwork but it’s a mess of infill and loose stones and bricks.

    It also alarmingly goes below the floor level.

    We want to restore it and put in a log burner eventually. How do I tackle this?

    Many thanks




Page 1
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 11th Aug 19, 7:31 PM
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    FreeBear
    • #2
    • 11th Aug 19, 7:31 PM
    • #2
    • 11th Aug 19, 7:31 PM
    I would start by chipping off the plaster in order to find the edges of the "builders opening" and the lintel above - It could be a brick arch or just a concrete beam. Once you know the size of the opening, start removing the bricks from the outside and work your way in. It will generate a lot (and I do mean a lot) of mess. When done, you should have a hole with about 200mm of bricks either side and something like 800mm high.

    If you have any doubts about your ability, leave it for the stove installer to do the work. There is a danger that if you mistake the supporting bricks for "infill", the whole lot could collapse on you.
    Last edited by FreeBear; 11-08-2019 at 7:34 PM.
    Her courage will change the world.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
    • GloriousEuropa
    • By GloriousEuropa 11th Aug 19, 9:22 PM
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    GloriousEuropa
    • #3
    • 11th Aug 19, 9:22 PM
    • #3
    • 11th Aug 19, 9:22 PM
    I would start by chipping off the plaster in order to find the edges of the "builders opening" and the lintel above - It could be a brick arch or just a concrete beam. Once you know the size of the opening, start removing the bricks from the outside and work your way in. It will generate a lot (and I do mean a lot) of mess. When done, you should have a hole with about 200mm of bricks either side and something like 800mm high.

    If you have any doubts about your ability, leave it for the stove installer to do the work. There is a danger that if you mistake the supporting bricks for "infill", the whole lot could collapse on you.
    Originally posted by FreeBear
    Hi FreeBear, thanks for the reply.

    The mess isn’t too much of an issue as the whole house is in need of renovation and was bought purposely for this

    I was thinking of exposing the brickwork beneath the plaster to see where the lintel lies.

    I guess I should have done that first and then made a post. I just wanted some insight about the “infill”.

    Btw, it’s so loose and crumbly, I doubt it’s holding anything up. I managed to pull some out by hand with the gentlest of tugs.
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 11th Aug 19, 10:37 PM
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    FreeBear
    • #4
    • 11th Aug 19, 10:37 PM
    • #4
    • 11th Aug 19, 10:37 PM
    Btw, it’s so loose and crumbly, I doubt it’s holding anything up. I managed to pull some out by hand with the gentlest of tugs.
    Originally posted by GloriousEuropa
    You will probably find it is random lumps of bricks and assorted crap - When I did my fireplace, it certainly was. Keep digging away at it until you find regular, well laid bricks. Watch out for the "gather" (probably) just above the lintel. Don't go digging this out as it is structural
    Her courage will change the world.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
    • GloriousEuropa
    • By GloriousEuropa 11th Aug 19, 11:41 PM
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    GloriousEuropa
    • #5
    • 11th Aug 19, 11:41 PM
    • #5
    • 11th Aug 19, 11:41 PM
    You will probably find it is random lumps of bricks and assorted crap - When I did my fireplace, it certainly was. Keep digging away at it until you find regular, well laid bricks. Watch out for the "gather" (probably) just above the lintel. Don't go digging this out as it is structural
    Originally posted by FreeBear
    Hmm is this “gather” more loose infill mortared into place above the lintel to fill the discrepancy between the brick and lintel thickness?

    Thanks again FreeBear!
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 12th Aug 19, 12:36 AM
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    FreeBear
    • #6
    • 12th Aug 19, 12:36 AM
    • #6
    • 12th Aug 19, 12:36 AM
    A picture is probably easier...



    The gather is the tapered section above the fireplace.
    Her courage will change the world.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
    • GloriousEuropa
    • By GloriousEuropa 12th Aug 19, 7:43 AM
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    GloriousEuropa
    • #7
    • 12th Aug 19, 7:43 AM
    • #7
    • 12th Aug 19, 7:43 AM
    Ohhh that makes sense. Thanks for the picture. Interesting that there may be two lintels! But yeah, I definitely wouldn’t mess with anything above a lintel
    • GloriousEuropa
    • By GloriousEuropa 12th Aug 19, 8:29 PM
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    GloriousEuropa
    • #8
    • 12th Aug 19, 8:29 PM
    • #8
    • 12th Aug 19, 8:29 PM
    Hi again FreeBear. Did some more work today. Hopefully this will give a better picture!







    I take it everything outlined here can be taken out?

    • Ectophile
    • By Ectophile 12th Aug 19, 11:21 PM
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    Ectophile
    • #9
    • 12th Aug 19, 11:21 PM
    • #9
    • 12th Aug 19, 11:21 PM
    The rubbish infill around the sides of the fireplace are probably to fill in the hole where the pipes used to go in and out of the boiler.


    When I had my stove installed, the installer first had to re-fill all the gaps in the side of the fireplace with proper bricks and mortar.
    If it sticks, force it.
    If it breaks, well it wasn't working right anyway.
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 12th Aug 19, 11:54 PM
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    FreeBear
    I take it everything outlined here can be taken out?
    Originally posted by GloriousEuropa
    Yup. Everything in red. You'll probably find once you take out that bit of rusty angle iron, quite a bit will just fall out. So watch your toes - You are wearing steel toe cap boots aren't you

    I'd also chip off a lot more of the plaster above the lintel and replaster in lime. You will find that the chimney breast will get very hot with a wood stove alight. Gypsum plaster will crack and flake with the heat. When you do fit the stove, you'll want to use a heat resistant plaster on the brickwork (unless you intend having bare brick).
    https://shop.vitcas.com/all-products/heat-resistant-materials/heat-resistant-plaster-system.html
    https://www.everbuild.co.uk/product/heat-resistant-plaster/
    Or use lime plaster again - Do not use plasterboard anywhere near the stove.

    A bit of FYI - I have an inset cassette stove, and the chimney breast has been measured at between 80°C and 120°C above the fire. Gypsum plaster (the pink stuff) starts to fail at around 60°C.
    Her courage will change the world.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
    • GloriousEuropa
    • By GloriousEuropa 13th Aug 19, 12:29 PM
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    GloriousEuropa
    Haha well, what's not pictured with the angle iron is that above it is a board through which the old liner passes through, so before I move that, I'm going to have a bit of a clean up first, as no doubt the crap that comes out of it when it's dropped will be enough on its own.

    As for the rest of the plaster, definitely not done removing it. I just wanted to get some pics here as soon as the lintel was exposed.

    Btw, is the lintel strong enough to attach an oak fascia to it, rather than replacing it with an oak beam mantel?

    Ahhh I remember seeing that Vitcas fire plaster before! It was on this guide here

    https://plasteringforbeginners.co.uk/plaster-fireplace/

    Anyway thanks so much again for the help FreeBear
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 13th Aug 19, 1:00 PM
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    FreeBear
    Btw, is the lintel strong enough to attach an oak fascia to it, rather than replacing it with an oak beam mantel?
    Originally posted by GloriousEuropa
    Do not go replacing the lintel with an oak beam. One, the work would need to be approved by building control (as would the stove installation). Two, any combustible material must be at least three times the diameter of the flue away from an uninsulated flue. So if your liner is 150mm dia. the oak beam would need to be a minimum 450mm away. Mounting an oak fascia to the lintel would be OK.
    Her courage will change the world.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
    • GloriousEuropa
    • By GloriousEuropa 13th Aug 19, 6:45 PM
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    GloriousEuropa
    Ahhh good call, FreeBear. Thanks! I'm glad I'm the type to check these things first.

    Did some more work today. My arms and hands are dead. Wish I had £1 for every strike of the cold or bolster chisel with my lump hammer! And some of that old cement rendering beneath the plaster does not want to move!



    I take it that slanted infill crap isn't the gather, especially since it's below the main lintel right? It can all just come out?

    I have no idea what this molten metal crap is wedged into the right edge of the lintel



    And I'm alarmed at how thin the lintel is. I thought it would be twice the width of a brick, but it's like 2/3 the width of a single brick!!





    • pmartin86
    • By pmartin86 13th Aug 19, 10:09 PM
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    pmartin86
    Freebears advice has been excellent and I wont even try to add to or contradict that advice, but you mentioned a dead arm/hand from the bolster/chisel - if your tacking a house renovation, quot that now and invest in a decent SDS Hammer/Chisel drill - I've done up an 1930s house and I swear to god after doing half a room by hand it was the best £200~ I've ever spent!
    • GloriousEuropa
    • By GloriousEuropa 13th Aug 19, 11:37 PM
    • 27 Posts
    • 6 Thanks
    GloriousEuropa
    Freebears advice has been excellent and I wont even try to add to or contradict that advice, but you mentioned a dead arm/hand from the bolster/chisel - if your tacking a house renovation, quot that now and invest in a decent SDS Hammer/Chisel drill - I've done up an 1930s house and I swear to god after doing half a room by hand it was the best £200~ I've ever spent!
    Originally posted by pmartin86
    Thanks for the advice.

    Funnily enough I was thinking I probably needed one because I tried using my normal Ryobi drill with masonry bit and hammer action to help get through the old mortarted joints of the bricks, and it barely got an inch into it.

    I was also thinking of getting an angle grinder!
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 13th Aug 19, 11:39 PM
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    FreeBear
    The gather will start around where the lintel is. The sloping section that is currently exposed is infill from when there was an open fire. It can be safely removed. As for the lump of concrete you have there, I'd be tempted to remove it and install a new lintel the full width of the chimney breast - You would want a minimum of 150mm of supporting brickwork either side, so to go a full brick width saves on trimming them down.

    The glob of metal is possibly lead hammered in and originally used to fix a surround or mantle to.
    Her courage will change the world.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
    • GloriousEuropa
    • By GloriousEuropa 13th Aug 19, 11:56 PM
    • 27 Posts
    • 6 Thanks
    GloriousEuropa
    The gather will start around where the lintel is. The sloping section that is currently exposed is infill from when there was an open fire. It can be safely removed. As for the lump of concrete you have there, I'd be tempted to remove it and install a new lintel the full width of the chimney breast - You would want a minimum of 150mm of supporting brickwork either side, so to go a full brick width saves on trimming them down.

    The glob of metal is possibly lead hammered in and originally used to fix a surround or mantle to.
    Originally posted by FreeBear
    Thanks FB!

    So it’s to the BCO then to get approval to fit a new lintel ?

    I seem to have got my lengths, widths, etc. mixed up. By how thin the lintel is I now know I meant the depth is very thin.

    But the width is actually thin? So replace it with one that spans the full width of the fireplace? And it does not need brickwork either side of it?

    Also, regarding SDS drills, I was looking at this Bosch one.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007P15NU4/

    Why is the 110v more expensive than the 240v? Wouldn’t the 240v be more powerful?
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 14th Aug 19, 7:09 AM
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    Davesnave
    A 110v drill is a professional tool, only usable with a suitable step-down transformer. They don't always cost more, but if they do, it'll probably be because there aren't the volume sales that standard tools achieve.


    Don't forget you need different bits for a SDS drill.
    'Goddamn Europeans! Take me back to beautiful England and the grey, damp filthiness of ages..'
    Polly J Harvey 'The Last Living Rose'
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 14th Aug 19, 9:11 AM
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    FreeBear
    So it’s to the BCO then to get approval to fit a new lintel ?

    I seem to have got my lengths, widths, etc. mixed up. By how thin the lintel is I now know I meant the depth is very thin.

    But the width is actually thin? So replace it with one that spans the full width of the fireplace? And it does not need brickwork either side of it?
    Originally posted by GloriousEuropa
    If the opening is say, 900mm wide, you have 200mm of supporting brickwork each side for a total width of 1300mm. The existing lintel is supported by approx 100mm of brickwork either side - Rule of thumb for lintels is 150mm of support either end. I'd be tempted to knock out a brick either side, remove the existing lintel and fit a 65mm x 100mm x 1500mm reinforced precast concrete lintel (cheaper sources available) and cut to length. Depending on the state of the brickwork above, an acro and strong boy may be needed when removing the old lintel.

    When the stove is fitted, building control will sign off the work which will include the lintel, If you use a HETAS registered installer, they will self certify the work and do all the BCO paperwork for you.
    Her courage will change the world.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
    • GloriousEuropa
    • By GloriousEuropa 14th Aug 19, 10:41 PM
    • 27 Posts
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    GloriousEuropa
    What a day. Never been so exhausted and aching in a long time. Really went for it today and removed the lot, as well as clean up with 10+ rubble sacks.

    I went for the advice and got an SDS drill and without it I don't know what I'd have done.

    Got this monster



    Here it was at the midway point of removing everything. You can see the streak lines where the chisel went through the old cement render.





    I don't know how I'm going to get rid of what's left because it is like diamond. I guess I just painstakingly chisel by hand bit by tiny bit?





    As you can see I attempted to clean the fireplace with a scrubbing brush and soapy water, but it hardly made a dent and just smeared black soot everywhere.

    It was at that point I was just too worn out and called it a day.

    Anyway, FreeBear, sorry if I'm being an idiot and misunderstanding your idea, but do you essentially mean have a new lintel like this?





    Edit:

    And sorry to ask too many questions, but is that perfectly square hole in the left fireplace left by the old back boiler pipework and infill being removed, perfectly fine to fill back in with some decent bricks? Do I need a special heat proof mortar?

    Added more pics for clarity





    Last edited by GloriousEuropa; 14-08-2019 at 11:14 PM.
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