I'm currently in the process of removing an awful 30s tiled fire surround and open fire and replacing it with a wood burner, which arrived today (I went for the AGA little wenlock). Our house is Victorian.I have just managed to remove the old fire surround from the wall and it's laying flat on the floor where it was lowered (no idea how I'll move it out of the room, it's incredibly heavy, probably smash it into several pieces).The problem I have is I don't know whether or not I can (re-)open up the 'hole' where the firebox currently is and where the new stove will go, since I don't know whether or not there is a lintel to allow me to do this.The chimney breast is 160cm wide. The old fire surround (and hence the area of now exposed brick) is 123cm wide by 94 cm high.It looks to me (with my inexperienced eye) by the lay of the bricks that the original opening (i.e. before the 30s fireplace was installed) is 88cms wide. It also looks like when the fireplace was fitted, this hole was closed up to accomodate a 'firebox' of width 30cms. There is a lintel above the firebox which is 57 cms wide, and sits on the bricks used to fill the gap (between the original - i think - hole 88cms to the firebox 30 cms. There are also 30s bricks above this lintel, but they are covered in plaster above the height of the now removed fire surround (94cms).What I need to know is how to discover whether there is a lintel for the original opening (for the 88cms wide opening). I assume there was one originally, and can't see any reason it would have been removed, but do I just risk it and knock out all the 30s bricks along with the 30s lintel and firebox?First time I've done this, and my terminology is probably wrong, but I hope someone understands what I seem to be asking in a very complicated way!. Thanks.A further question - should the firebox simply slide out (mine won't).
I'd first look from the inside, but you're goung to get dirty.Crawl inside the with a torch and a wire brush, and under the encrusted soot the builders won't have made any effort to hide the original lintel, it may be very obvious. If not, then take the plaster off the wall front face. (You're going to have to patch up anyway, but don't hack bricks out if 1. you don't have to and 2. there's any possibility of the brickwork above collapsing). By taking off the plaster without disturbing the brickwork or the original lintel you should be able to find it that way. If they've just filled in without worrying about bonding the bricks to each side, then a straight vertical mortar join above the existing hole will indicate the infill as you work upwards. Mario
I've done this job a couple of times on a slightly younger house. Some points come to mind:- You may well find everything surprisingly easier if you give up on metric and use imperial measurements i.e. acknowledge that you have a 5ft chimney breast!- You do know that what you're doing falls under building regs don't you (?!).- The structure inside the brickwork is probably a fireback moulded from refractory (fireclay) material - if so, you can smash this up with a club hammer and take it out in bits. The "lintel" I think you're describing may be a "throat" piece of the same material placed above the fireplace, just behind where a mantelpiece would go - intended to constrict the bottom of the flueway. If I've understood you correctly, this can be removed too as it is unlikely to have any structural purpose. I'm a bit unclear about the 30 bricks you mention.- The structural lintel will probably either be of timber and/or a brick arch and/or a curved iron strip.- As Mario mentions, you will make vast amounts of sooty dust - especially removing the loose material which probably sits behind the fireback!- The fire surround is probably reinforced concrete and you can lift them by getting your shoulder in under the mantel and standing up - easy to put down safely in a hurry if you need a rest.- If you're not sure, do take care as the dangers are obvious!- Have you got a plan for fitting a register plate and/or a flue liner?If you still need help, maybe you could post a (link to a) photo or two?
What I need to know is how to discover whether there is a lintel for the original opening (for the 88cms wide opening). I assume there was one originally, and can't see any reason it would have been removed,...Unless you had a real knuckledragger living in the house before you, there is no reason to assume the original lintel has been removed. Ive cleared about a thousand or so fireplaces and not come across one that has been removed, yet.Try not to remove plaster, you're just creating more work for yourself....but do I just risk it and knock out all the 30s bricks along with the 30s lintel and firebox?As has been mentioned already, clear everything back to the original brickwork with a lump hammer and bolster until you end up with a nice clean opening, big enough to sit in.You will then need to lay your hearth ????????? Solid fuel requires an 18 inch depth from the front of the chimney breast.Once you have laid the hearth you'll then need to raise the level of the floor inside the breast up to the thickness of the new hearth with a mixture of fine rubble and cement, using a trowel for a tidy even finish, for your stove to stand on.Good luck Bear.
Thanks for the replies.Tomorrow, I'll hack some plaster off, working upwards along the vertical mortar line between the old and newer bricks, as WM suggested. (btw the 30s means from the 1930s, when I think the fireplace i am removing was installed. We've always assumed it was from the 30s, but I suppose it could be from the 1950s. I have some photos, and I'll figure a way of posting them.Building regs - the quote I got for fitting from a fireplace shop was 3.9k quid (including the stove), and including 1.3k for lining (they wouldn't install without lining). I've just had the chimney swept, and the flueologist who swept it thought the chimney was in good enough condition without a flue liner which wouldn't make much practical difference anyway - so I intend to just put the flue pipe through a register plate and into the existing flue. (I need to open up the cavity in order to get the measurements of the register plate). Are there any other building regs involved (which make a practical difference)? The house is draughty enough, so no need for added ventilation. I think you're right that the 'lintel' i referred to above the firebox is simply the throat to guide the gases, so I'll try to remove the firebox tomorrow and see what that reveals (however I don't intend to climb into the hole this will reveal!).
Are there any other building regs involved (which make a practical difference)?There is plenty of useful information here:http://www.stovesonline.co.uk/stove_building_regulations.htmlThere are regs on hearth size as mentioned, thickness and IIRC ventilation if the stove has a rating of more than 5KwHTHmrf
Replacing a curved metal lintel strip with an oak beam.Hi,I've taken a gas fire out safely with fire place surround - not too much damage to plaster work. Looking to fit oak beam to replace curved metal lintel strip - any advice/tips as to how to do this safely - is there any need to use supports etc or is it a case of just removing the vertical row of bricks,cutting out space at either end to take the beam, removing the metal lintel and fitting in the beam? It's a 1930's house - pretty well built,strong bricks etc.Thanks for any advice given.
Why do you want to remove the iron lintel? I've left mine in place and put a new oak mantel piece attached to the wall directly above - much less hassle and looks fine.
Hi,Thanks, certainly less work - points there are1.lintel is curved and we want beam to go straight across and at same height. This is a beam and not a mantle shelve so nothing underneath beam.2.We would like beam to sit flush with the plastered wall.Thanks - any ideas - it's good to get others ideas - I'm no expert and even not a brilliant diy er - but wiling to try as long as it doesn't make the house fall down!
is there any need to use supports etc or is it a case of just removing the vertical row of bricks, cutting out space at either end to take the beam, removing the metal lintel and fitting in the beam?You do not know how much weight the curved metal lintel is holding up. It would be embarrassing (to put it mildly!) if you remove the lintel or the row of bricks for the beam and all the front bricks of the chimney shift down and crack or, even worse, collapse completely.I would not undertake such a job without serious support to the brick work before removing the lintel. This is not hard. Take out two bricks spaced so that supports put into the holes will hold the whole thing up, just above where the beam is going. A hefty chunk of wood around 3"x5" through each hole and four acrows.Then take out the lintel, put in the beam and repair all the brickwork. Leave a day at least then remove the acrows and replace the two removed bricks.
Hi,That makes sense, thanks I didn't want a simple job to become a diaster. I guess these points are clear when you have the knowledge and experience. I'll let you know how I get on.
I think you'll regret not having a mantel that projects forward into the room:a) to put stuff on (!) and b) to help project the flow of rising air from the stove into the room - helps to get convection currents moving more usefully in heating the room and helps to avoid dust streaks on the wall above the fireplace.If your fireplace is a "normal" size (3ft or so) and brickbuilt then one Acro prop will be more than adequate - I'd use a "strongboy" too. Do you know what type/size of oak beam is required and what end bearing to allow?If you're not a confident DIYer then I think you're in danger of making a stressful job for yourself.You do know that the work is covered by Building Regs don't you?
Hope you have already got the oak sitting in a warm dry room and gently seasoning.Did something similar ten years ago, and for about the first 3 or 4 years it warped andtwisted as it dried out, so we needed an annual replastering and redecoration around it.That said it looks excellent and was worth the trouble.
...for about the first 3 or 4 years it warped andtwisted as it dried out, so we needed an annual replastering and redecoration around it....I forgot to mention - that's the other reason I chose to hang the timber off the wall, not build it in!
Hi,Thanks for your advise - job went ok, could find small enough acrows used four pieces of large timber as props.Ta
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