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tcook555 05-13-2012 11:41 PM

old chimney - wood built into chimney-- Why??
1 Attachment(s)
Greetings everyone, I tried doing my homework on this but came up empty. In my 200+ year old farmhouse there is a layer of wood built right into the chimney. It's in the basement near the base of the chimney. (see pic)

Has anyone seen this before? Was this common way back then? Why would they do this??

The wood is now rotting, yet there is at least 30' of chimney above it. :eek: There is no chimney access in the basement, but on the first floor, right above it, there is a fireplace.

Thanks for any feedback on this!

oh'mike 05-14-2012 06:34 AM

Never saw that before---Why would they have done that?

TRUEPRO 05-14-2012 10:52 AM

It wasnt uncommon at all for rafter systems to be built in with brick chimneys in older houses (20s and earlier). By locking in the wood with the brick, it made the roof stronger. Now i cant really see how the wood is incorporated in with the brick because the slight blur but im sure there was a legitimate reason they did this. If you have any concern with the structural integrity of the brick then you prob want a foundation expert to come look at it.


tcook555 10-07-2013 11:26 PM

Well here's the answer for anyone who comes across this post and wants to know:

When they built this chimney long before any of us were alive, they stacked the bricks in a rectangle, just like any chimney is built. But this chimney was built with no chimney/vent access from the basement. I guess they didn't need it back then. The boards you see were placed there to serve as a base, (like a subfloor) for the bottom of the first floor fireplace. So on top of those boards are multiple layers of bricks that serve as the floor for the fireplace. Doing it this way was simpler and saved time and a lot of bricks. Unfortunately, over the span of a couple centuries, water eventually penetrated through those layers of bricks and into the wood.

Interestingly, the chimney was built "into" one of the main beams of the house, it's like they are merged together. It was built in such a way that the wooden beam actually supports the load of the chimney above. The base of the chimney beneath the beam certainly helps with this, but if the base of the chimney failed, or in this case, if those rotted timbers crumbled away to nothing, the chimney would not shift! Only the layers of brick that make up the fireplace floor would lose support. The main wooden beam would continue to support the chimney, with or without these wooden timbers in place..

So there you have it.. :thumbup:

Fix'n it 10-08-2013 08:51 PM

thanx for the update. how about a better pic ?

tcook555 10-11-2013 01:30 PM

6 Attachment(s)
Here's some better pics from different angles including the first floor fireplace. The "Main Beam" is approx. 11 x 11 but the sides of the chimney are built into the floor joists providing support to the sides of the chimney.

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