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Old 08-18-2014, 06:37 AM   #1
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rim joists covered up with brick and mortar


I'm trying to rewire part of my house and need access to receptacles on the first floor from the basement. Unfortunately, the space between my foundation wall and subfloor is filled with brick and mortar. It's 100+ year old house and balloon construction. There are one or two spots where the bricks are knocked out and I do see a rim joist. Can anyone tell me if it's OK to knock some of the brick out in order to fish wire? Also, what's the purpose of this brick?!! Is it to hold the joists straight and parallel to each other? This is the case between the floor joists sitting on load bearing brick wall running through the middle of the basement as well.

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Old 08-18-2014, 08:58 AM   #2
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rim joists covered up with brick and mortar


Got some pictures?
Most often it was to close up the hole at the bottom of the wall. One way to install fire blocking. (Google it)
With balloon walls there open from the crawl space or basement all the way to the attic.
Makes for a great chimney when there's a fire.
Has this place ever been insulated?
New panel and rewired?

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Old 08-18-2014, 02:20 PM   #3
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rim joists covered up with brick and mortar


Here are some pictures of where there's brick and where some has been knocked out.

The house has blown in cellulose insulation (over knob and tube wiring ). New wiring in part of the house and the transition from fuses to breakers was done at some point in its history.

The fire blocking makes complete sense on the outside walls. Why would they put it in the internal walls?

Thank you for responding and helping!
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rim joists covered up with brick and mortar-img_20140818_150710712.jpg   rim joists covered up with brick and mortar-img_20140818_150920421.jpg   rim joists covered up with brick and mortar-img_20140818_150739954.jpg  

Last edited by OneRestlessDude; 08-18-2014 at 02:24 PM. Reason: forgot to attach pictures
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Old 08-18-2014, 03:58 PM   #4
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rim joists covered up with brick and mortar


There is no rhyme nor reason when it comes to old house renovation, gave up long ago trying to figure it out.
No telling how many people have been in there just trying to get by and taking the easy way out when trying to up grade.
For the past 30 years that's all I did was work on 100 plus year old houses.
Just my own opinion but if I had to do this I'd be knocking out that old brick with a maul, adding new blocking (2X ripped to width) sitting horizontal then using my long flex drill from above to make a new hole.
Once the wires in place seal the hole with expanding foam.
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Old 08-18-2014, 04:05 PM   #5
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rim joists covered up with brick and mortar


There is no rhyme nor reason when it comes to old house renovation, gave up long ago trying to figure it out.
No telling how many people have been in there just trying to get by and taking the easy way out when trying to up grade.
For the past 30 years that's all I did was work on 100 plus year old houses.
Just my own opinion but if I had to do this I'd be knocking out that old brick with a maul, adding new blocking (2X ripped to width) sitting horizontal then using my long flex drill from above to make a new hole.
Once the wires in place seal the hole with expanding foam.
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Old 08-18-2014, 04:50 PM   #6
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rim joists covered up with brick and mortar


Old houses are a mixed bag to be certain.

You can seal up that ribbon board/brick with some cut and cobbled rigid foam pretty simply.

Keep us posted on the rest of the projects...you have your work cut out for you.
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:02 PM   #7
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rim joists covered up with brick and mortar


i have the same thing in my house. but mine is not a balloon. and i will tell you what. that brick, at least not mine, doesn't come out that easy. i used a demolition hammer on some of them, not so easy. its wedged in there pretty good.
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:19 PM   #8
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rim joists covered up with brick and mortar


Same thing in my place. Had to go through a few of them for ducting. Okay to knock a few bricks out for wire or ducting. It comes out pretty easy.
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:59 PM   #9
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rim joists covered up with brick and mortar


Thank you for the responses! So I gather that it should be sealed up when it's all said and done for safety's sake. I hate patch jobs and this joint is full of them! Drywall directly over plaster, some bx, some Romex, some knob and tube, etc. We've gutted most of the house and are ripping out all the extra wires and pipes. I'll keep telling myself that it's going to be awesome, but I am really looking forward to going back to being a full time mom when this is all done .

Joe: I wish I could do what you'd do, but I don't have the tools or access from above to do it. The first floor is the only floor that we've kept intact since the plaster was in good condition and the wood work (which is in pristine condition) runs 5' off the floor.

Dumb question: does the insulation act as a fire block or is it fuel for the fire?

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