chimney wall - make bigger and put in shelves

12 Jul 2006
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United Kingdom
I'm currently stripping down a room, getting rid of all the old lathe and plaster and replastering it with plasterboard and a layer of plaster.

Room is smallish bedroom on 1st floor in 3 storey terrace roughly 120 years old (top rooms go up into roof).

I'm considering opening up the old bricked up chimney wall in there and making the hole about twice as high so i can put shelves in and store lots of stuff in the extra space created as the storage space in this house is very limited. The chimney in the room below has been taken out (before we got the house) so big lintel/beam across top corner of that room.

I've read lots of posts about similar tasks on this forum, useful input but still need more.

I know its a load bearing wall and dangerous to mess with, I know I need to support it then put a lintel in. Do you have any web links I could look at for how to do this? ... I don't really want to get builders in, and with common sense and the right methods and equipment don't see why I cant do it myself.

I need to know what lintel is appropriate and if the remaining chimney wall (side alone) can support it, or I will need to build/add supports.

What temporary supports should i use, how do i put them in so the chimney is safely supported, then transfer the weight onto the lintel when I'm done?

Would like input so I can decide what to do.

Thank you :)
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Roughly 1420mm across (includes the plaster as well). New plaster patching old fireplace up is not in centre - I'm assuming the flu for the now removed fireplace on the ground floor runs behind this old plaster to the side of where this fireplace was? I'd want to open the fireplace so that its central - then probably about twice as high as where the original fireplace was. I've got a picture of what I want in a DIY book, I could scan it and post it later maybe if it helps?

thank you :)
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Simplest solution is to install a concrete lintel over where you wish to create the opening, remembering to prop the chimney, then remove the brickwork down to first floor level.

You either need to prop the chimney down to ground floor base or onto the steel that should be supporting it.

Check if the chimney has been capped off at top because water etc getting down the flue may be a problem.

Post some photos. Also what way do the floor joist on second floor span because if they span onto the chimney you should put a beefier lintel in. Oh and is it a partywall chimney?

I think the chimney has been capped off at the top, can't really see as outside area is a bit too enclosed with other buildings so I can't go back quite far enough to get a clear view. It must have been capped though or we would have had major damp problems by now.

There doesn't appear to be an air vent in the chimney - cant see one outside (its an end terrace - so also no probs of party wall there) and there isn't one in the room I'm decorating, or in the room above. Are air vents sometimes installed in the space between ceiling and floor? - I'm not able to see yet (in process of removing old plaster ceiling and plaster mess on floor so can't take the floorboard up yet) If I still can't find an air vent could one be installed in this gap and still work effectively? When I took the plaster off the chimney wall underneath the plaster around where the old fireplace was seemed a little damp.

The joist go the other way - not onto the chimney wall.

I will try and borrow a digi cam to take an post photos hopefully.

thanx :)
Check in the loft to see if the chimney has been brought down to loft level, if you cant see it outside.

the chimney stack is still there - I mean I can't get back far enough on the ground to be able to see whats on there - I think it could have been one of them big steel-looking vent barrel shaped things on top of it.

The chimney will need ventilating, this is normally done by putting in a small metal or plastic air vent when the chimney place is blocked up. If you intend to block it up youll need to check that a vent is inplace in the floor above (or loft), vent is there to allow any trapped moisture in the chimney a way to escape.

Here goes trying to make sense of what I've got...

House is 3 floors - rooms go up into loft space so there is no attic. There is chimney walls in both the back and front rooms of the house. The chimney wall in the back ground floor room was already removed when we bought the house (big block across that top corner of room which will be the support). Chimneys join into one in the top (attic) floor rooms.

The fireplace in the 1st floor back room, which I want to alter, had been blocked up and plastered over. There is no fireplace in the chimney wall of the room above.

Could I put the vent in the space between the ceiling of the 1st floor room and the floor of the top floor? - will this provide enough ventilation? I don't really want a vent in the wall of the rooms if I can avoid it.

Hope this makes sense, I will try and get a digi cam so I can post some pictures in next few days if still needed.

Thanx for your help :)

here is a photo of the chimney wall now i have taken the plaster off the front:


as you can see (just about), the fireplace is offset to the right - so the flu for what was the fireplace in the room below runs up the left - another thing to support?

here is a pic of the supporting beam in the room underneath the one i want to alter:


here is the idea i'd like to make it look like:


That pic can be found on page 63 of the 1987 Reader's Digest New Manual - its a big red file, if any of you happen to own a copy.

I want to put built in wardrobes into the alcoves at either side as well - purpose is to maximise storage and the shelves in the chimney would make good use of space and a nice feature in the room (hopefully!)

chimney wall is 270 high and 138 wide, side is approx 35 deep. Its end terrace so nothing on other side. Wall is flat outside (not built out where chimney goes up).

so far i havent found any vent, which doesnt really surprise me as everything seems to have been done on the cheap in this place (i'll probably have to add a vent to the additional loo in the 'cupboard' at some point... amongst many other things that i might have to sort)

The chimney wall doesnt appear to be damp - and the plaster was fine (apart from the age of it - which is why ive decided to replace it). There did seem to be a little bit of damp around where the fireplace has been blocked off. would i need to add a vent to both sections of the chimney? (flu from ground floor and 1st floor chimney)

other things i need to know:

size of lintel? concrete?

how do i go about installing the lintel safely (transfering loads)? is there a diy book/website that has this info (i could do with diagrams and pictures i think if poss). i've got the new readers digest diy manual, but it doesnt have the info i need in there for doing this. ive also got the colins diy manual on the way...

thanx people :)
why not just drop the whole chimney and stack as its obviously no longer used
Yes i think its possible, i would only remove the width of the existing opening and put in a concrete lintel just below the ceiling level, leaving a couple of decent sized piers each side. A vent should be put into the chimney somewhere to allow the air to circulate. Seems like a fair cost just to put in a book shelf tho

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