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
Thanks a bunch,
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
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.
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