Opening up fireplace no lintel :/ (pics)

11 Sep 2022
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United Kingdom
Hi, any advice would be much appreciated!

I began to open up my old 1860s fireplace but things haven’t gone as planned!

My house has a full height three room basement, complete with an untouched builders opening.


As you can see, the basement opening is supported by a brick arch. The room with the fireplace that I started to open up is directly above this room and I had assumed (never assume) that the builders opening above would be identical - WRONG ‍♂️

After removing the boarded up mantelpiece and hearth of this room…


I discovered a cut off gas pipe, lots of rouble/mortar and breeze blocks filling the old builders opening. After taking out several bags of rouble I managed to open up the small fire place just enough to get inside and take a look.

It was a good job I did this before demolishing the breeze blocks because there is no lintel or arch! I’m totally at a loss as to why the basement would have an original brick arch support, yet the living room above seemingly has no support - or am I missing something?

I decided to leave the breeze blocks in place for now but i’m baffled as to why there’s no original lintel or brick arch here; and why whoever installed the gas fire didn’t add any support to the builders opening or breeze block opening either. I’ve left a few pics below. What do you make of this? Or are you as confused as I am?


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You can just about make out a thin rusty wire one level of bricks above the breeze blocks, where the original bricks begin …. I think the bricks sat on-top of the breeze blocks where added with the breeze block as they look different and are narrower…

… thinking about it, my dining room still has an original cast iron fireplace. I’m now wondering if this room had one originally too; perhaps being cast iron they were actually structural and helped support the chimney stack.
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Surprised, not really, it's been tampered with and blocked up and left as is. You've just copped unlucky, especially as the basement one is in very good condition.

Stick a single course concrete lintel in, and fill in as required.

What are you planning with opening it up?
We’re having a multi fuel stove fitted but I was trying to save a few quid by opening up the fireplace and setting the hearth and mantelpiece myself.

Am I correct in thinking the breeze blocks are holding the bricks above up? … we like the idea of having the back and side bricks exposed but they’d need pointing before the stove is installed.
If you are asking will it fall down when I remove the breeze blocks, no it won't.

Nothing wrong with your plan, as mentioned previously, insert a concrete lintel when you get to the height of the opening you want and fill in with brick/block. You'll be able to get a lintel for tenner, it's fairly straightforward process.

It will be dusty/sooty, search around the forum on how to get sooty off brick.

Alternatively you could put a fibreboard/cement board in and use brick slips (cut down facing bricks) to make it look better.

Good luck.

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