Oops! Another Setback

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How NOT to line a chimney

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The family room fireplace, toothed, ready for firebrick and fireshelf.

The same fireplace with brick rebuilt and firebrick installed.
twoa.jpg (7715 bytes) Family room chimney, looking down from second floor.
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Toothing bricks for flues from the foyer and the parlor.

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Second floor, FR fireplace flue, liners being installed. attic07.jpg (7553 bytes)
Parlor chimney, awaiting flue liner attic15.jpg (3849 bytes)
All that's left of the parlor chimney from the attic up.99111306windetail2.jpg (7054 bytes)
And slowly, the rebuilding process begins.

Sunday, February 6, 2000

The rather startling photo at right is what remains of the parlor chimney from the attic up. In this installment, I'll show you the events leading to this unhappy outcome in all their gory detail.

First, recall that about two months ago, I wrote about the decision to install flue liners and rebuild our century-old chimneys:

"Bricks have been removed to open the other two fireplaces. Once these are relined, the upper floor chimneys need to be opened, flue liners installed, then the chimneys rebuilt. This process will happen all the way up the chimneys, resulting in a safe and structurally sound chimney.

One company quoted a price to simply blow a lining into the bricks from the roof, but other experts told us this process would leave us with a pile of fractured bricks instead of any fireplace at all.

Not a risk we were willing to take."

No second-guessing

I still think we made the right decision, given what happens in this sequence of photos. It's quite possible we would have incurred significant damage to the house had we chosen to go ahead with the first procedure recommended.

Nonetheless, this is a setback, since on January 30, I was hoping that the chimney work would be done within a week.

The rest of the renovations are being held up by the chimney work. The framers need to reconstruct the upstairs walls around the refabricated chimney. A steel collar needs to be attached to the top of the chimney where it exits the roof to tie the framing there to the brick. Once that's done, the trades can get going with among other things, the central air conditioning.

The beginning of the end

Here's where the great chimney lining adventure all started...at right is a picture of the family room chimney, looking down from 2nd floor. Note toothed brick. Liners will be inserted here.

As you can see from the following photos, relining and rebuilding the chimney is a tricky process of removing old bricks, inserting the liner and then rebuilding the bricks. We took the precaution of bracing the chimneys before work began.

Looking thinner and thinner

The chimney starts to look thinner and thinner in the photos. In one of the last pictures I took of the parlor chimney before its demise, it is looking mighty fragile.

Note that we braced the chimney before starting work, but I guess the removal of bricks weakened the whole structure sufficiently that it just started to give.

One hundred and one years of weathering and roof leaks had taken their toll.

Controlled demolition

With collapse imminent, the brick masons pulled the parlor chimney down in a controlled fashion. We quickly cleaned the mess inside, and made plans to bring the chimney back up through that hole.

Starting over

The brick masons don't want to lean the structure as it was originally. The plan is to build a large 'L' shaped chimney with a mantle-like ledge at about the 5' level.

The first step is to build a guide to align the bricklaying. This is built with 2 x 4 poles. Then slowing the process of rebuilding the chimney begins.

In the last picture, you can see the lean of the newly installed flue liners. They will straighten out at around five feet up from the floor. This is the spot where the chimney narrows.


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