1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Need help - Large cast iron box - behind veneer brick - **pics**

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by Pharaoh, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. Pharaoh

    Pharaoh New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
    Hello everyone, I have been trying to find information online and am failing miserably.

    Here is my situation: We just purchased this house and moved into it in September. There was an old ugly brick fireplace in it.

    Here is a pic:

    [​IMG]

    This thing was heavy as hell - way too much weight on the floor - to the point where we saw it effecting the basement underneath. So I had a couple of guys come in to remove it so that we can replace with something much lighter...

    more pics:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    We were so happy to have it all removed and out - we must have taken out at least tons of crap.

    So here is what I'm left with right now:

    [​IMG]

    Here is my question/problem...

    the black box you see is a really thick steel/cast iron. It seems to be massive...the pics don't do it justice...I would need at least 4 big guys to move it.

    We want to install a natural gas insert that we purchased. The opening is deep enough at the bottom for the insert, but the steel box back wall is slopped forward so that it gets more narrow toward the top. I brought in a couple of installers and here are the options I have...

    1. They will some how cut the back wall of the cast iron box so that the insert can go in flush and they will run chimney liner etc...

    2. Fully remove the cast iron box and all the surrounding brick so that I can maybe install a zero clearance gas fireplace.

    I would love to go with option 2 because I like zero clearnace fireplaces but I am VERY worried that the chimney is built around this iron box and if we remove the box then maybe the chimney will collapse.

    Any thoughts on this? I am finding it very hard to find information online in regards to this.

    Thank you in advance for your help...

    Daniel

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    49,711
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
  3. Redlegs

    Redlegs Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2012
    Messages:
    282
    Loc:
    Eastern Kansas
    That looks serious...best of luck.
  4. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Messages:
    475
    Loc:
    SE CT
    Forget the stove installers and get a real mason in there. Get an old mason in that was around at the time your house was built so he knows what he is looking at if at all possible. if they built the chimney on top of that box you could lose the chimney.
    ScotO and Redlegs like this.
  5. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    Messages:
    2,835
    Loc:
    Commonwealth Of Massachussetts
    Second on the mason.
    Get an experienced mason involved.
    ScotO likes this.
  6. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    4,681
    Loc:
    southern Indiana
    Do you know if the chimney is all masonry or does it have a metal pipe sticking out of the top?
  7. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,450
    Loc:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I am not anyone's professional fireplace person, let alone yours, but like begreen wrote, that's a Heatform variant. It's a welded plate steel (not cast iron) box, inside of another steel box, forming an air jacket that was meant to harvest a bit of heat from an otherwise hideously inefficient open fireplace. It was never a great idea. On top of it there is almost certainly a standard, tile-lined masonry chimney. It's very similar to what I dealt with in my home.

    Removing the old hearth and face brick was unnecessary. You're just going to have to rebuild something with more masonry, putting much of the weight right back. I doubt the weight was really a structural problem, since before you started it looks like the brick was all in good condition; if it had moved noticeably there would have been cracks, broken bricks, unevenness, etc. In any case if there was a structural issue then it's a problem with the framing below, not the weight, and the framing could've been strengthened much more easily than all this tearout. All that to say, I don't think much of the advice of whoever set you on this course.

    Cutting out part of the back of the metal fireplace to make room for the insert is going to be fine. If you were putting in a woodstove then I'd say you should go for an insulated, zero-clearance sort of chimney liner, but the requirements for gas might not be as stringent. I recommend that you stuff the air jacket of the old fireplace with some sort of insulation, and seal up all the convection vents with some sort of masonry.
  8. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    9,440
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    Or just remove the entire thing, every bit of brick. You don't say if you want to keep the chimney, or if anything else in the basement uses the same stack(s) but at this point you might be better off going all the way and being rid of the maintenance chores forever.

    I'm not a fan of masonry chimneys.
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    49,711
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    What gas insert is this?

    PS:Just for clarification, the big metal box is steel, not cast iron.
  10. Pharaoh

    Pharaoh New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
    Hello all,

    thank you very much for the replies so far.

    In resonse to some of what was said above...

    The chimney is definitely all masonry, no steel pipe coming out the top. I am very worried about it all being built on this steel box - if we remove the box and the whole chimney collapses then I am screwed. I definitely won't have the money to fix the issue.

    Removing the old hearth and face brock was very necessary. It looks fine in the first picture that I posted but in actuallity we were seeing many signs of damage. We noticed in the basement that the floor was starting to settle on the duct work and actually crushing it. We also did see cracking and splitting in the morter inbetween the brick and then last but not least - we noticed that it went from being right up against the wall to slowly pulling away at the top.

    I can't just remove the entire thing and lose the chimney. I want to keey the chimney and I still would like a fireplace. I definitely can't afford to have the whole chimney rebuilt. I wish there was an easy way of knowing how much that steel box is actually supporting the chimney structure.

    It seems like the most simple solution is option 1 that I outlined above: cut the back wall of the steel box so that the insert can go in flush and they will run chimney liner etc...I can then have the face done with stone work that would still be much lighter then what was there.
  11. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Why did they dump all that brick all over your floor and area rug?! :eek:
  12. colin.p

    colin.p Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Messages:
    175
    Loc:
    Ottawa Canada
    I was wondering the same thing? Looks like a very tricky job.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    49,711
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    I had the same thoughts. Before I started the process I laid floor protection down and tented the room with an exhaust fan to keep the dust down.
  14. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    9,440
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    I didn't tent the room and we were cleaning the grossest black dust off of everything for weeks after the chimney was removed.

    If the weight of the masonry chimney is resting on that steel box, I would be ripping it out especially. Sounds hokey.
  15. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Messages:
    1,714
    Loc:
    Central Michigan
    WOW - that there is a doozy of a project. A little late now but I would have considered a baby I-beam and floor support in the basement. That way you could have preserved the hearth and slipped the gas or wood insert right in there. Even add cultured stone to the front to change the look.

    I would do all I could to save as much of the steel box as I could because getting that out of there is an even bigger doozy.

    Get a second opinion from a reputable mason(s) is probably the safest place to start.
  16. Wade A.

    Wade A. Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    360
    Loc:
    South
    Man, you must have really, really hated that rug.
  17. Pharaoh

    Pharaoh New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
    Hello all, it's me again. Just wanted to check in to update you with more pics and what's happening.

    And yes, we hated the rug so we told them do not worry about it or the flooring because we were going to throw out the rug and put new hardwood flooring anyways.

    So update on the fireplace: I had 2 guys in today working on it for about 5 hours. They cut out the back panel of the box, ran the gas line from the basement, and ran chimney liner down the chimney and installed a Napoleon Gas insert that I bought used for a reasonable price.

    Here are some updated pics:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Here are my upcoming stages/steps:

    1.) I will be building a platform to sit on the floor infront of the fireplace, it will reach the bottom of the insert. I will be drywalling around the platform and continuing our baseboards around it and painting the drywalled portion the same colour of the walls (we're changing the ugly green to something much nicer)

    2.) I will be tiling the top of the platform/hearth that I build so that I will still have a traditional fireplace look with a tiled setting infront of it.

    3.) I will be getting an oversized mantel to go around the outside opening of the brick area, it will be like a frame.

    4.) Then inbetween the mantel and the fireplace insert, we are debating between a veneer stone finish or a granite/marble finish.

    Anyways, that's where we're at...thanks for all the input guys.

    Pharaoh
  18. colin.p

    colin.p Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Messages:
    175
    Loc:
    Ottawa Canada
    Just be sure to post the "finished" pictures.
  19. Pharaoh

    Pharaoh New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
    Not to worry, I will - I just like to show how the project is also moving along.
  20. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    4,681
    Loc:
    southern Indiana
    I'm interested to see how this is going to turn out. I've never seen an insert installed before the fireplace was finished. Any reason that you had it installed before the face was finished?
  21. Nick Mystic

    Nick Mystic Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Messages:
    766
    Loc:
    Western North Carolina
    I'll be interested to see how you go about patching up all that brick work from the partial tear out. I've done a little masonry work over the years and I wouldn't want to tackle that job. It looks like it's going to be a real jig saw puzzle.
  22. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,519
    Loc:
    SE Mass
    Don't let me do any of all y'all's decorating - I kinda liked the rug.
  23. Pharaoh

    Pharaoh New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
    Hey guys, no difference that the insert got installed before the face was done. The gas line is flexible and I confirmed with the gas tech that we have room to move it around here and there.

    As for how much of a job it's going to be, I am very worried about it as well. Usually I would do it myself but I am getting quotes from different guys to come in and do it because I am not sure if this is something I can do. From what I heard, I can get cement sheets to even out the wall so that it will be easier to put the face on.

    I'll keep you guys posted...
  24. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Messages:
    475
    Loc:
    SE CT
    Was there a reason to not put it in level? In pic right side looks low compared to opening if that is actually square?
  25. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,450
    Loc:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Not knowing what sits on top of that mess, I'd want to fill in all the gaps where bricks and mortar have fallen out before I covered it with anything. It may not matter much, given that whoever built it in the first place seems to have just filling in space with whatever leftover junk they had lying around; there's no regular pattern of overlaps and offset layers. But if it were me I'd be taking chunks of that brick they tore off the front, buttering them with mortar and shoving them in wherever they'd fit. I'd also pack mortar into the gaps between bricks.

    A sounder alternative to CBU to level the surface would be to screed a layer of stiff, sticky mud (mortar) directly onto the brick:

    F2.jpg

Share This Page