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Widen builders opening in chimney breast

Discussion in 'Building' started by sbothwell, 3 Aug 2009.

  1. sbothwell

    sbothwell

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    I have had an old gas fire removed and chopped out the surround, superimposed hearth and old fireback with a view to getting a wood burning stove fitted.

    The stove installer was surprised to find that the existing opening is only about 500mm wide, and said I'd need to widen the opening by about a half-brick on either side to fit any normal sort of stove. There is a throat-forming lintel above the existing opening, but it doesn't look to me as if it's original - the brickwork around it and above/below look different to my inexperienced eyes. I've removed some plaster from the face of the breast, looking for evidence of a constructional lintel but don't think I've found one yet (see picture).

    The house was built in 1955 - is there likely to be another lintel higher up (i've chopped plaster off up to 1.2m so far), either concrete or iron? The height of the existing opening is suitable for the stoves we were looking at - is the brickwork likely to be stable enough for me to remove the throat forming lintel and replace with a wider concrete one? If it makes a difference the flue goes off to the left and narrows to the width of the jamb in the first floor. The gather starts on the right hand side one course above the throat - is the right hand jamb therefore likely to be full of crap?

    Thanks.

     
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  3. noseall

    noseall

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    Armed with an electric hammer, a drill, some bricks and mortar and a 1050mm concrete builders lintel or two, that chimney breast could be modified to suit the opening you want, i.e. 700mm wide by whatever height.

    You just need to be aggressive when knocking out and creative when building back, all what you need (structurally) is right there.

    The entire chimney breast may have been built to site a back boiler right from the off, as there is no evidence of narrow cheeks or an iron supported arch.
     
  4. sbothwell

    sbothwell

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    Thanks Noseall, you could well be right about the boiler. When I removed the crap that was infill behind the gas fire (which sat in front of the chimney breast) there was a copper boiler for a coal fire still in place. The ends of the pipes can be seen in the bottom left, and the opening where they go through the left jamb looks as if it was built like that - no sign of chopping out at any rate.

    The breast above the throat forming lintel is only one brick thick, so that'd just be one new lintel I presume. Is the rest of the structure likely to be self-supporting while I make this replacement, or should i strip back the plaster/render above and put in some needles and supports just to be safe?
     
  5. dextrous

    dextrous

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    Just to clarify a couple of points. First of all, this is on the ground floor!

    Second, don't know about scotland, but here in england the work you're about to embark on would require structural calculations, and you're changing the structure of the whole of the chimney right the way up to the roof!
     
  6. noseall

    noseall

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    Creating a 700mm wide opening will involve removing relatively small amounts of masonry structurally so i would envisage minimal collateral damage. I would be surprised if you get more than one or two bricks falling.

    You may need to fit short lintels back to the dividing wall as well as the main opening lintel and perhaps some creative corbelling.
     
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  7. sbothwell

    sbothwell

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    Thanks Noseall,

    No structural damage at all - the front of the breast was actually only holding pretty much it's own weight for a single skin of brick, the flue being tied in to the back wall all the way up. You weren't joking about needing to be robust with the electric hammer - The bricks broke up before the mortar did!
     
  8. danicamywa

    danicamywa

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    hi my house is a semi detached and the problem is ..
    the chimney converted to a wardrobe in the 2nd flor ..when we moved to the saidhouse no body leave nxt door and then a couple of month ago somebody moved nxt door..but the problem is you can hear anything and avery noise from next door and im sure they heared the same thing on the other side...any advice please
     
  9. DIYnot Local

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