Chimney brick removal

11 Sep 2018
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United Kingdom
I hope someone would be so kind as to advise me, I have exposed an old fireplace in my 1915 victorian house. I have found a big lintel already in place about 4 foot up, I have removed infill brickwork from the front but still have a lot of brickwork exposed behind the lintel and lower than the lintel from what I believe is the smoke chamber. Alot of this brick work is slack and unsupported. What is supporting it above if i remove these bricks? I know the chimney is supported to the sides and the front. I just concerned what I can remove from inside. The bricks you see in there center is just infill I know I can remove.


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When chimnies were built, the outer breast and stack were built as normal walls, likewise for the flue perimeter in the middle, and then any gaps between these were filled with any old rubble or bricks and mortar. This infill was not bonded to the other walls and relies on the brickwork at the top of the fire opening, and if this is removed it relies on friction and old mortar preventing it from slipping.
Hi woody, thanks for the reply. All the brickwork you see on the bottom and some to the side is infill like you say and I do understand that. But to the left on that picture the bricks hanging in the corner are part of the smoke chamber cobeled brick formation that runs up inside the chimney breast. There is nothing supporting it and some bricks are loose. It runs up the inside of the left alcove then right up into the chimney and seem to have parge up it. In the pic I have attached you will see newer infill bricks I have not moved yet but the black soot covered bricks are what concerns me . Are they structural? They can't be doing much at the moment as they are just hanging.


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Corbelled bricks are supporting the infill above and should not be removed.
There is nothing below these bricks they are just hanging, so they will need support then?
In response to your question, "will they need support then?".
They do not need support below them, they are Corbelled bricks that are taking all the load above them and transferring this above load into the wall at the side. Hence you cannot, must not, remove them.
Here are some images that show them in use:

You say some of these bricks are loose. This is not a massive issue as the other bricks are taking the load. For any loose brick I would suggest that you re-pack the into place by putting new mortar in the gaps.

Ive had a builder out tonight for some advice, the arrangement I have in my chimney breast have "tie in bricks" to support the corbelled bricks above. He pointed out that it is like this all the way up. It just means I can remove the bricks that are slack level with the lintel.
jamster, whats your purpose?what happens next if you remove the infill - will youopen up the fireplace?for what?
Hi Guys thanks for all the advice so far.

Bobasd i am looking to put an aga in there hopefully, Woody the builder is familiar with other properties he has worked on in my street. i appreciate it is very hard to judge from photos and probably my bad explanation so i have done a rough sketch to maybe clarify it a bit better. In the picture (a) is the corbelled section in the smoke chamber, (b) is a section (a) stops at and the bricks seem to be in the opposite direction. is (a) supported by (b) at this point? underneath (b) is the bricks i have the problem with (c) are just hanging or appear to be and are very slack (i can take some out by hand) and there is nothing below them at all there is a 2 feet void and then the floor. I am not looking to remove anything from (a) or (b) at all. I have a feeling the bricks that are hanging was part of an open fireplace at some point years ago. but what the builder had said last night seems to ring true because under this cluster is a brick that is sideways into the party wall (d) and i assume that this is a tie brick he was on about. i have two options it seems, remove section (c) or build brick up from the floor to strengthen section (c) and have a fireplace half the depth and just put a burner in instead of the aga. this is not a side view it is a view of directly looking at the fireplace section (c) is hanging below behind the lintel.I dont know if this helps but it is a downstairs fireplace and is one of four others in the property and does not sit directly under the external stack.


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if all that brick thatt looks like infill is infill then its supportin nothin its just filler that was needed to make up the later reduced openin that you see now.
does any other ground floor c/breast look like this one an have the same dimensions?

whatever applianceyou want to install will need the infill to be removed an probly the opening enlarged - which would mean movin the lintel higher.
what kind of lintel do you have?

do you understand that the flues from each seperate fireplace can share the same c/breast ? its common to have say three flues in one c/breast. so all the flues cant be centre flues.
Hi Bobasd, that lintel there is over 4 foot high and over 9 inchs thick, the side supports are just the same. in the pic attached the parts marked blue are the lintel and supports, the yellow is infill i know i can remove the green is the party wall, red bit is the brickwork i am concerned about moving. this is part (c) in my diagram i want to move from under part (b) in hope that it does not effect part (a). this is the only room in the house that has this sized opening.


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sounds like a ston lintel that can be reused higher up the c/breast if you need to move it.

dont mess with the red bits - from what i can see they are a corbelled part of the flue structure.

but as above until you now the install dimensions for the new appliance your in the dark.

youve had a local builder thats good. why not bring in a HETAS an see what they say?

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