Question about fireplace repair

Hey folks,
First post here - probably the first of many... I just bought a 100 year old house and the back wall of the fireplace is falling apart (spalling). Basically it looks like someone took a pick axe to part of it. I want to get that part fixed - its basically about a 3' x 2.5' wall of basic red bricks. What may make things a little complicated is that the house is a twin and the fireplace is in the corner of the living room, against the wall that separates the two halves of the house. The fireplace in the other half of the house is back-to-back with ours, so there is likely an additional layer(s) of brick or who-knows-what between them. I'm wondering if fixing the firewall is something that a general mason can do or if this is some sort of specialty work that I should be contacting someone else (chimney sweep?).
Thanks a bunch, Nate
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Check around the neighborhood to see who they use. We have a local guy that is a mason as well as chimney sweep. He knows what he is doing, does it well, charges reasonable prices. General mason may be very good at laying brick, but unless he knows about fireplaces, especially old ones, it may not work well.
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Based on the age of your home and the condition of your firebox, I'd definitely contact a sweep for a thorough inspection of your entire chimney. If your firebox is constructed out of spalling red commons, you should probably replace them with a fire-brick. While a mason can handle this tear down and rebuild, he/she won't necessarily be familiar with proper fireplace maintenance and codes.
It's highly likely that your home has unlined flues, which will need to be addressed before you burn. Terra cotta flue tiles weren't in use at the time your house was built; chimneys were strictly brick and mortar constructions. You should also have any gas appliances inspected, as old brick and mortar flues can develop gaps and holes into your living spaces. Carbon monoxide detectors are never a bad idea.
mark __________________________ Mark Cato snipped-for-privacy@andrew.cmu.edu
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Mark,
Thanks for the advice. I'm in the process of looking into chimney sweeps now. I'll go with the specialist.
Nate
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