Opening Up A Fireplace

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Abecedarian
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon 25th Nov, 2019 9:15 pm

Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by Abecedarian » Tue 5th Jan, 2021 4:13 pm

Good evening,
I've just started reinstating an original (I hope!) fireplace. So far I've uncovered this....
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It's much higher than I expected - about 5 feet - and I'm still not sure I've uncovered the Intel. However, I have found this...
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There are some cracks on the wall at this height that suggest that this may be the lintel, but it's concrete.

I am confident that this section of the house was part of the tithe barn next door, built in 1836. Is it feasible that there could be a concrete lintel 5ft above the ground from this period?
I'm wary of going too much further without more information. I thought when fireplaces got bricked up they were just faced with 1 layer of bricks but when I took one out towards the bottom it seems that the "cavity" may be full.

Is this normal?
Does anybody have any idea what it may have looked like back in the day?

Many thanks,
Paul
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Easrow
Posts: 63
Joined: Fri 5th Feb, 2016 3:55 pm

Re: Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by Easrow » Tue 5th Jan, 2021 8:05 pm

I think I would probably take off more plaster and see what the difference in bricks are. I wouldn't have thought there would be a concrete lintel put there back then and I'd say it has probably had more than one fire in there over time. Our house is the same age as yours and I've opened up 2 fireplaces now. One was made smaller and smaller over time with the last one being in the 70s an open fire with brick surround. The lintel was actually an arch made of brick with an arched bit of steel (looks like a cart spring) underneath. The other fire was taken out at some point and blocked up with concrete. They used shuttering and just poured it in. That took some work getting that out I can tell you! This also has the same brick arch to support the chimney above. Both fire places had bricks damaged all down the sides.

TheForge
Posts: 304
Joined: Tue 25th Jan, 2011 4:37 pm
Location: Somerset

Re: Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by TheForge » Tue 5th Jan, 2021 10:26 pm

Pre cast reinforced concrete wasn’t invented until the 1860s. So this definitely isn’t the original lintel or plaster I would guess by the colour.

I would remove the plaster of the fave of the breast and see what is goi go on higher up. It’s likely either been rebuilt or added later.

Abecedarian
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon 25th Nov, 2019 9:15 pm

Re: Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by Abecedarian » Tue 5th Jan, 2021 10:43 pm

Thanks for the replies.
The remaining "plaster" is a cement render and very, very secure. I feel it may cause more damage than it's worth to remove it.
On further thinking, I'm going to remove a brick or two from just underneath where I suspect the lintel is and see what that reveals...

RBailey
Posts: 141
Joined: Thu 1st Aug, 2019 7:25 am
Location: Rutland

Re: Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by RBailey » Wed 6th Jan, 2021 8:34 am

Mobile phone cameras can be very good for taking pictures in tight spots such as through removed bricks.
Use the delay shutter release so you can press the button then stick it in the whole.

YorkshireCottage
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun 22nd Nov, 2020 4:04 pm

Re: Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by YorkshireCottage » Wed 6th Jan, 2021 9:13 pm

If you can borrow a thermal imaging camera you may be able to see the shape of the stonework underneath. If you look on the Heritage-House.org website, there's a great video of Peter Ward uncovering a fireplace after he reveals the lintel using TIC.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT0PwyrxZvg

Dumsey
Posts: 23
Joined: Sat 8th Dec, 2018 10:32 am
Location: South Yorkshire

Re: Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by Dumsey » Thu 7th Jan, 2021 9:38 pm

Thanks for that link YorkshireCottage. What an incredible fireplace.
And thanks also for the rabbit hole that is his YouTube channel...

YorkshireCottage
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun 22nd Nov, 2020 4:04 pm

Re: Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by YorkshireCottage » Mon 11th Jan, 2021 3:55 pm

Dumsey wrote:
Thu 7th Jan, 2021 9:38 pm
Thanks for that link YorkshireCottage. What an incredible fireplace.
And thanks also for the rabbit hole that is his YouTube channel...
Yeah, sorry about that. I spent ages watching the videos and getting completely sidetracked from what I was meant to be searching for :lol:

RBailey
Posts: 141
Joined: Thu 1st Aug, 2019 7:25 am
Location: Rutland

Re: Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by RBailey » Tue 12th Jan, 2021 12:26 pm

I watched the link as well, great find.

It also answered a question for me (and made work). We have an open "coal" type fire in one of our rooms and the walls around it are suffering salts / damp.
Image

Based on Peter's video I now strongly suspect a build up of soot / detritus. It means I am going to have to open up / remove the fireplace insert and give it a good clean out. Hopefully, I can just remove the insert and fire bricks clean out and then re-assemble. Any body any comments / advice?
Image

n.b. I know the chimney was blocked when we moved in as the sweep took out over 20 bags of twigs. Its swept now but we have chimney sheep in there during the winter.

plasticpigeon
Posts: 2415
Joined: Wed 4th Jan, 2012 1:30 am
Location: Birmingham

Re: Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by plasticpigeon » Tue 12th Jan, 2021 12:43 pm

I don't know how your fireplace has been put in, it looks like yours has a brick fill behind the grate and a tiled hearth so I'd have thought that any soot or detritis from the fire and chimney would have fallen into the grate not behind the insert. Might it be better to start with a cowl on the chimney? There are cowls that stop the rain getting down but allow ventilation fo ran open fire if you want to have one.

RBailey
Posts: 141
Joined: Thu 1st Aug, 2019 7:25 am
Location: Rutland

Re: Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by RBailey » Tue 12th Jan, 2021 1:31 pm

It is theoretically a working chimney so we have a fairly open cap, but it does stop the jackdaws nesting.
In the medium term list is to get some scaffolding up and give the top of the stack a going over so may well I will look at changing the vent then.

I suspect that this fireplace, whilst old, isn't original and was a lot more open originally. We had something similar in our living room that went from

this
Image

to this, albeit with a bit of tidying up at the edges.
Image

And the area / void behind was a mess, I was thinking there maybe similar in the current one.

CliffordPope
Posts: 644
Joined: Tue 16th Nov, 2010 2:57 pm

Re: Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by CliffordPope » Wed 13th Jan, 2021 10:40 am

RBailey wrote:
Tue 12th Jan, 2021 12:26 pm
we have chimney sheep in there during the winter.
I'd leave them. They are harmless and welcome the shelter and warmth in a harsh winter. :)

Zebra
Posts: 2628
Joined: Sun 1st May, 2011 10:42 pm
Location: St Albans, Hertfordshire

Re: Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by Zebra » Wed 13th Jan, 2021 1:34 pm

CliffordPope wrote:
Wed 13th Jan, 2021 10:40 am
RBailey wrote:
Tue 12th Jan, 2021 12:26 pm
we have chimney sheep in there during the winter.
I'd leave them. They are harmless and welcome the shelter and warmth in a harsh winter. :)
Personal preference only, but I find chimney goats much more suitable for an old house.

YorkshireCottage
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun 22nd Nov, 2020 4:04 pm

Re: Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by YorkshireCottage » Thu 14th Jan, 2021 12:24 pm

Zebra wrote:
Wed 13th Jan, 2021 1:34 pm
CliffordPope wrote:
Wed 13th Jan, 2021 10:40 am
RBailey wrote:
Tue 12th Jan, 2021 12:26 pm
we have chimney sheep in there during the winter.
I'd leave them. They are harmless and welcome the shelter and warmth in a harsh winter. :)
Personal preference only, but I find chimney goats much more suitable for an old house.
The apotraic marks in old houses were designed to keep away chimney goats. Vicious beasts, evil eyes. :twisted:

LadyArowana
Posts: 3240
Joined: Sat 17th Oct, 2009 1:58 pm

Re: Opening Up A Fireplace

Post by LadyArowana » Thu 14th Jan, 2021 5:59 pm

YorkshireCottage wrote:
Thu 14th Jan, 2021 12:24 pm


The apotraic marks in old houses were designed to keep away chimney goats. Vicious beasts, evil eyes. :twisted:
I think that’s rather unkind. They’re on the carnivore lunch menu so need every advantage they can muster https://www.businessinsider.com/why-go ... ?r=US&IR=T

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