Victorian Fireplace, brick arch loose

18 Apr 2020
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United Kingdom
I've opened up a fireplace am now wondering what to do about the arch, have never posted in a forum before but this seems like the ideal time to start!!

I'm trying to open up and old Victorian Fireplace that was plasterboard over, thought this would be simple, but it looks like the keystone in the top is loose. There is a steel strip underneath the the brickwork but whoever boarded up the fireplace added the framing and above it a peice of timber, which looks to be almost propping the steel. The brick to the right if the arch also looks loose....

I'm wondering if it is necessary to put in a new lintel or rebuild the arch, any help would be very much appreciated!!


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What's your purpose in opening it up - a wood burner, a cooker or a traditional exposed brickwork open fire etc?
Do you have any dimensions that you are trying to work to?

Why not go about 300mm above the arch - draw a level line at 300mm, and remove all plasterboard below the line down to the hearth.
Be cautious when working at the corners.
Does the plasterboard return from the face of the c/breast to the cheeks of the c/breast?

Could you post a pic showing he whole chimney breast with the plasterboard removed as suggested above?

Dont worry about being new, just say in your own words what you want to do. There are no stupid questions.
After looking at your next pic i'll try to take you further.
As above (strip the plaster/plasterboard), put as little energy into the bricks as possible (so chisel sideways, if big lumps are loose make sure they're not pulling the pointing with them if you lever them off).
Don't panic about the loose bricks but don't wiggle them about either.
While it's supported like that, cut or scrap that mortar out with a saw blade or scraper or suchlike, and put some fresh mortar back in. Leave a small lump or two of the old stuff just to maintain the existing joint space, and infill around them
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Thank you very much all for your replies. I have taken another photo with the little piece of wood removed (it does have the steel strap holding the bricks from moving downwards) and will re-point the bricks. My concern was that the keystone bricks looked loose but it does all seem quite strong other than that. If I repoint then replaster down to the opening should that be sufficient and the arch should be strong enough?

In reply to Bobasd I was going to just have the opening as a feature. The original fireplaces had been blocked up with plasterboard with no ventilation to the chimney flue and an open pot on top, so I didn't want to leave them like that. Luckily they seem very clean (picture of inside of flue below) and now I've removed bird skeletons and nests from the hearth I'll try to get an insect mesh and new pot on the top to stop the rain getting in. I was concerned about asbestos but it looks like it is mortar parging.

Thank you again!


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As the plaster above seems sound and is the old horse hair plaster, with a grey mortar with something that looks white in place of aggregate to either side I didn't want to knock it about very much more, (just in case) so was thinking that I would use renovating plaster to cover the bricks after repointing, hence the fact I haven't knocked any more plaster away in the photograph, it wasnt that I was trying to ignore good advice :)

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