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Replacing arch for lintel in 1920's fireplace or not

Discussion in 'Building' started by willinliv, 12 May 2021.

  1. willinliv


    28 Mar 2011
    Thanks Received:
    United Kingdom
    Hi All,

    First time poster, but long time lurker. Apologies if this first post ends up being more cathartic than anything else!

    Looking to install a woodburning stove in rear dining room of my 1920’s brick semi. House is in generally good shape, but you get the feeling that the country was a bit short of money at the time the house was built with building materials consisting of a lot of fly ash! Chimney continues upstairs onto what would have been an upstairs fireplace in bedroom, and eventually into attic where joined by flues from the front side of house. Chimney on party wall.

    I have stove with an offer too good to refuse, and hoping it will fit. Planning to get HETAS company in to fit flue liner and install appliance, but planning to do building work myself (to regs) to cut costs but mainly also part of the pleasure. In touch with Building Control.

    So, the reason for my post is that I have now chipped away the plaster on the chimney breast, opened up opening, found a solidfuel/backburner arrangement occupying a larger recess with jambs and a brick arch. There is a straight metal strap a couple of bricks down from the arch but doesn’t seem to be embedded in jambs in any way. Planning to remove strap and inner fireplace as a bit tight on the headroom and sides for stove. Based upon research in similar houses I had expected to find a second larger concrete lintel further up which I would probably end up replacing and plastering over, and easy fit of closure plate etc.. But instead there is the arch which is quite low down and the gather within the chimney probably lying immediately behind.

    Just wondered what the folks here would do?

    Possibilities for me now is:
    1. Remove the inner backburner fire leaving an archway opening. The arch bricks are ok but not the most beautiful arch (not very symmetrical!) and I did accidentally cut into the face of a couple of prominent bricks! They look solid up close, but looking at the image now I’m not sure if I trust them! Maybe could so with repointing with the ash lime mortar they already have, or maybe they were built with a strap in place. On the plus side these would give very much the kind of height I’m looking for for the burner, but I’m just not sure now on stability.

    2. Replace the arch entirely, (with appropriate supports), and installing a lintel. I imagine this having to be fitted to align with the top of the current arch build up the jambs on each side a bit. Not sure about interplay with the gather. It would also be a bit higher than what I originally envisaged but maybe not a biggy. Would give me nice flat lintel to easily work with and render over. Kind of torn about removing something that’s been coping well for 100 years!

    3. Try to square off somehow the bottom of the arch. I saw a post on here that was similar where a guy refitted a metal strap underneath the arch. This would probably be the best approach for this option because I couldn’t fit in a lintel in without upsetting the arch, and it probably would not give me any extra clearance anyway. So maybe a metal strap, but even here I can’t see where I could easily fit it into the jambs. Maybe one brick up.
    I think it’s a toss-up between A and B, with B being the most destructive but potentially most robust approach. What do fellow community members think? Am I missing something that would make an easier decision?

    Cheers, Will
    FP front.jpg FP side.jpg Diagram FP choice arch vs lintel.jpg
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