Chimney Configurations

Hi All,
I am a first time poster to this group but have found the general information on it extremely useful in the past, so thanks for that. However I have a more specific query now that I have just started my first renovation project of an old top floor tenement flat....
I have recently uncovered and started to dig around the old fireplace and have discovered what appears to be a brick built fireback covered by some kind of white mortar. I have removed a couple of bricks from the fireback to look behind it and there appears to be a second row of bricks in the same orientation.
Now what I wanted to do is remove the fireback completely to square off the opening, then reface it for both aesthetics and to reduce the opening size (currently 2'6" by 3'3") and then install a wood burning basket.
However my doubt now that I see the second row of bricks is whether the fireback can actually be removed without punching a hole into the adjoining neighbours fireplace - i.e. is the "brick fireback" in fact the original builders opening?
I don't know too much about different styles of tenement construction so is it possible to get back to back fireplaces like Layout A below, or are they all more spaced out like Layout B?
In terms of my building it is not as grand as far as room sizes or fixtures go as some other buildings I have seen, and I wondering therefore if I have a "cheaper" version of the std chimney structure if such a thing existed.
So apologies for the long post, but hopefully it gets my query across. I do have a chimney sweep coming in a few weeks to check out the chimney, and maybe he can advise me, however I would like to get the fireback removed before then so I would appreciate any advice you have.
Thanks a lot.
Layout A Layout B --- --------- --- ------------- \ / \ / \ / /-\ \ / /-\ \-/ / \ \-/ / \ --------/ \---- --------------/ \--
--- --------- --- ------------- \ / \ / \ |-----| \ / |-----| \-/| | \-/ | | --------| |---- --------------| |--
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Sh|t man this ascii arts harder than it looks....hopefully this looks more like what I was trying to show....

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In tenements the usual configuration is the front rooms of the lowest flats are the chimneys near the front of the building, so working up through each floor the chimneys work in toward the middle of the building. The back rooms of each flat then work from the middle of the chimney stack for the lowest house and out toward the back of the building for each floor. This makes each chimney lie side by side with the chimney of the flat above.
Most fire places in the larger rooms of the house had a double skin affair at the back of them which was used to draw the fire. This means that the open fire that you see had a slide plate above it, that when it was pulled forward over the fire itself, the heat was drawn down and behind the front skin of brickwork through a gap left at the bottom. When the fire was dying out this technique was used to rekindle it and was called drawing the fire.
So the thin layer of small bricks you have removed are usually just a skin to create the gap to draw the fire and the layer behind them is the actual fire back itself. Most of the older fireplaces today are having the front layer of brick removed to have new open living flame gas fires installed. The new fire boxes around the gas fires are just large enough to fit in most older fireplaces if the front skin is removed.
Hope this explains it a bit.
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Ginty wrote:

You need to use a fixed-width font for your "drawing"!

Erm.... nope!
be snipped-for-privacy@thai.com! Shop all amazing products and get our special offers!
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Shared chimneys will invariably have fireplaces (normally diagonally opposite each other) separated by at least a 9" thick brick wall. The firebacks are built into the fire openings afterwards.
You should therefore be able to remove the fireback to leave a square opening ready to receive the new fireback
You may not be able to simply put a new fire within the enlarged opening - you must normally incorporate a suitable fireback to protect the actual structural brickwork.
You will also need to get the flue tested to confirm that the draw from the chimney is adequate and that the general conition is good enough to prevent any splillage into the room or those rooms/roofspace above. Also check the external stack for signs of corroded mortar or if it is leaning slightly. I don't think a chinmey sweep is qualified to check the flue.
You should also check your lease, as a chinmney is normally part of the structure for which you may need permission from the management comany. Also if the fireplace was blocked up, then the chinmey is likely to have been capped off too.
dg
snipped-for-privacy@mcgshouse.fsworld.co.uk (Ginty) wrote in message

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