Enlarging fireplace, no lintel

25 Sep 2012
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United Kingdom
Hi all,

We are currently renovating our living room which includes enlarging the current small fireplace. I had hoped to find a lintel further up the wall but it seems there isn't one :evil:

A couple of questions:

1. Would it be worth removing more plaster, is a lintel going to be any further up?
2. Assuming there is no lintel, how easy would it be to insert one? We want to enlarge the height by around 2 courses. The fireplace is 1.3m wide, with the current opening 89cm wide.

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If there’s a lintel further up the the brick would usually have a vertical joint all the way up either 1 or 1.5 bricks in from the edges.

Very easy to put a lintel a couple of rows up. I did it, i **** it while doing it but just 1 brick came loose above the row that I cut out.
As above re the brickwork if there was a lintel there.

Fitting new very easy, google acrow prop and strongboy, 1 of each would do for that span.

If you're planning a woodburner in that fireplace then make sure you put the lintel high enough to give adequate clearance for the temperatures involved
When I opened mine, there was a concrete lintel that I took out but it was lower than where I was putting a new one in. I cut through the mortar above it, inserted a steel into it and also 2 more steels either side to hold the throat of the chimney, and then knocked out the lintel below. Its been fine for the 2 years its been in.
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Update. Lintel installed, thanks all

However, having removed some of the bricks, I’m not too happy with what is behind. It looks like someone has previously hacked away at the cheeks of the fireplace, reducing the bricks by 30mm or so in places. They should be as wide as the first 3 courses below the fireplace.

Anyway, does it look structural sound? Wondering whether to continue remove the bricks from the back of the fireplace.

Some progress made.

Back to the original back wall of the fireplace now. However, I still need to increase the height up to the lintel. Maybe a silly question, but whilst the lintel supports the face of the wall, how is everyone behind supported? The pot chimney liner seem to be surrounded by mortar and various bricks, some are tied into the brick work, some not and those that are aren’t the same each side.

I'm no expert, but isn't the loose brick intended to support the clay chimney liner you describe, if not what is?

Maybe time to bring in an SE or experienced builder.

Some better pictures.

I’ve been told that the chimney was built around the clay/pot liner with the voids filled with mortar and bricks as the sections of liner were fitted. Which makes sense. However, that raises the question: is it self supporting ie it all locks together or does it need something below it? The outer face of the chimney breast is obviously supported by the new lintel, it’s all the crap behind I’m concerned about.
The outer face of the chimney breast is obviously supported by the new lintel, it’s all the crap behind I’m concerned about.

Some of those bricks back there are much more recent (post 1980's) than the rest of the house/place - it does look like it has been severely botched..

my thought is - It needs some proper support installed, but no expert.
It looks as if those lower bricks at the back were stuffed round the actual fireback/throat etc and aren't supporting anything much. If they aren't tied into the side or the back of the structural stuff then pry them loose (cautiously with a wrecking bar)- you'll almost certainly find a shedload of halfbricks, sand, twigs, all manner of rubbish above them. The main structural loads are being carried by your lintel at the front and the side and back walls (the bits with proper bond and not shedloads of stray mortar poking out)- as long as you don't start hitting them you'll be fine.
Presume it is meant to be corbelled brickwork but it doesn't look too clever :!: I think this might qualify as structural alterations :cautious:
Don't think what we can see in the pics is corbelling....all that spare mortar everywhere!
In the pic in post 1, is that the end of a concrete lintel, immediately above the fire opening?

Did it support anything when you took it out?


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