There’s nothing more comfortable than sitting in front of the fireplace with your loved ones. Almost all traditional houses have a fireplace, but that doesn’t mean that a newly built house shouldn’t have this pleasant experience. If your region has cold winters and you want to add a fireplace to your home, the first step is to choose a fireplace. Masonry fireplaces are undoubtedly one of the most popular options because of their aesthetics.
In this article you will learn what brick masonry is, its advantages and disadvantages, its anatomy and how to build this type of chimney in your home.
What is a Masonic chimney sweep?
Masonry chimneys are made of various materials, including metal, brick, mortar, concrete block, chimney plates, stone and cast iron. Almost all of these fireplaces contain a combination of these materials, making them preferred for both modern and rustic homes.
Advantages of masonry chimneys
- Effective: These fireplaces offer greater heat reflection than metal fireplaces. The purpose of the brick chimney is twofold: to keep the chimney room warmer and to dissipate the smoke from the chimney as efficiently as possible.
- Aesthetics: Because the stone fireplaces are made of different materials, they are considered visually beautiful if they are well designed. Some homeowners even choose to install several masonry chimneys that extend beyond their main residence. B. on a terrace or veranda.
- Permanent: Stone fireplaces can last for several decades if they’re well maintained. Inspection and cleaning every two years is recommended.
- Increase in cost of sales: Since these fireplaces are preferred by buyers, installing a fire in front of your home will increase their resale value.
Disadvantages of brick chimneys
- Structural limitations : Although brickwork chimneys are visually attractive and increase resale value, they are heavy additions and may only be installed in one or two-storey dwellings.
- Sensitive to water intrusion: This type of chimney is more likely to deteriorate due to prolonged contact with water. The materials used for brickwork cannot withstand heavy snowfall or frost, as they tend to expand quickly. Water on the chimney can cause rust in the cast iron or metal and weaken the parts. So what’s the solution? Watertightness is necessary to protect the chimney from possible damage caused by snow and rain. It is therefore important to inspect the chimney regularly for signs of wear and tear before major problems arise. Another solution to prevent water from entering through the chimney is to install a plug. This minimizes the damage to the mortar, which can eventually lead to the growth of the fungus. Finally, be sure to replace any damaged flashing or rusted metal that may cause leaks.
- Installation and costly repairs: – Installing a stone fireplace is not for people on a tight budget. In addition to the high installation costs, replacing old chimney sections or other chimney parts is expensive.
- Regular maintenance required: Just like any other part of your home, a brick chimney needs regular maintenance, every 6 months or every year. A professional chimney sweep company inspects your chimneys and sweeps them if necessary.
- Durability depends on the chosen materials: If you use soft bricks instead of hard bricks, your chimney will deteriorate faster and you may need to rebuild. A brick chimney is only durable if the materials used are of high quality.
Masonry chimney anatomy
Before going into the details of building a masonry chimney, let’s take a look at the different parts of the chimney:
Mortar or chimney crown : This part is like a sink that sits on top of the chimney to prevent water from getting into the bricks and mortar. Water cannot get into the chimney and damage your house. Without a well-constructed chimney crown, the brickwork is not protected against rainwater. Over time the bricks and mortar weaken and the chimney collapses.
Chimney: is the chamber that emits the smoke from the chimney. It is available in different sizes and shapes. A brick chimney can have several chimneys if several stoves are connected to the same chimney. Just like the crown, the chimney is an important part of the fireplace.
Smokebox: is the part directly above the accelerator (we’ll get there in a minute). The flue gas chamber is aimed at the inside of the passage and serves as a support for the chimney. It is usually built of brick and must be covered with a thin layer of mortar to provide thermal insulation and allow the smoke to pass through unhindered.
Smoke bowl : This part works with the smoke box to push the smoke out of the chimney. It is located behind the valve at the bottom of the chimney.
Flap: one of the most important parts of the chimney, usually in the same place as the shelf and the room. The purpose of the damper is to close the chimney when it is not in use. It is therefore important that the valve works properly so that the heated air does not escape through the chimney if there is no fire. Standard valves have a handle on top of the chimney that can be closed, but because most of them are made of metal, they tend to rust every few years. A cheaper alternative to the standard shock absorber is the top seal shock absorber, which offers better protection against cold-blooded animals (bats and rats) in winter and heat in summer. These dampers completely seal off the top of the chimney and do not require a full throat.
Val: It is a heavy piece of iron that supports the bricks in the middle of the chimney. The lintel is fully integrated in the brickwork of the fireplace.
Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! It is an essential part of the chimney and smoke extraction system. The fireplace is made of a double or triple wall construction that transports the heat and conducts the smoke into the room. Because the fireplace is exposed to a large amount of heat, it tends to wear out faster than other parts of the chimney. This means that if it is built with quality materials and repaired on time, it can take longer.
Throat: is where the smoke passes through the throat.
Firebox Extension: this part protects the area from high temperatures and ash. It’s right in front of the fireplace. Typical materials used for fireplaces are stone, concrete, brick, granite, tiles or marble. Wood panels and other combustible materials are a fire hazard because they may be too close to the opening.
Ash drawer: This part has a door and is located just below the middle of the firebox. When the door is opened, the shaft falls into the shaft stack. This is one of the easiest ways to remove ash from the stove.
Clean the door: this part is usually in the basement and makes it easier to clean the ashtray.
How to build a stone chimney in 6 steps
Now that you’ve explored the different parts of the stone pipe, it’s time to learn how to build one for your house.
Here’s the material you need:
- Cement mortar (part Portland cement, part hydrated lime and 6 parts sand).
- Flashing light
- Brick or concrete chimney wall
- Sheet metal
- Concrete blocks
Pay attention: Make sure you build the masonry chimney on a reinforced concrete block or pedestal. Otherwise, place an 8 to 12 inch thick concrete slab on each floor before building the chimney. The thickness of the concrete of course depends on the number of floors in the house.
Mix the cement mortar with lime and sand. Make sure the consistency matches the thickness of the peanut butter. Knead each brick with mortar so that the cement mixture comes out of the gaps. This ensures that the seams are filled without air pockets.
Now stack the bricks on top of each other, starting with the chimney walls on each side. Use the levelling rod to ensure that the wall is properly aligned both vertically and horizontally. Otherwise you must adjust the bricks before the cement mixture dries.
When building the outside of the chimney, lay chimney tiles and seal them with cement mortar. If the stove is set too high, it can now be adjusted.
Once the chimney is built, place sheet metal on all 4 sides of the opening between the outside of the chimney and the combustible parts.
A metal flashing must be installed where the chimney comes out through the walls. When the roof meets the chimney, a liner must be used, which is installed under the roof. Finally, cover the indicator with kit.
The chimney cowl can now be mounted on the brick chimney, making sure that it protrudes at least 5 cm from the chimney wall. Pay attention: The chimney cowl should not be tilted towards the chimney, but away from the chimney construction. The cover must have a lip that allows better drainage of the water from the chimney in order to minimize the ingress of moisture.
Important reminder: The chimney cowl must be separated from the chimney with a fixed seal, rubber or butyl. Silicone oil and sealants are not strong enough and do not hold up well. If the space between the chimney and the lid is too large, fill the space with fire retardant putty before sealing the top of the space to prevent water from entering. Don’t forget that the space between the cap and the chimney provides room for compression and expansion. If you do not fill the space between the chimney and the lid, the gasket will break and the chimney will crack. It is also important to regularly check the lid and the chimney to make sure that no water enters through the chimney.
Tips for building stone chimneys
- Masonry chimneys are usually the heaviest part of the house because they are made of non-combustible materials such as stone, concrete, brick and concrete blocks. Therefore, the chimney foundation must be strong enough to support the weight without shifting. It is preferable to build such a chimney on well compacted soil.
- For one-storey houses, the base of the chimney must be 8 inches thick.
- For two-storey houses, the footprint should be 12 inches thick.
- Masonry chimneys should be lined with chimney tiles that can withstand extreme weather fluctuations without cracking.
- Make sure that the masonry you are building has at least 2 inches of space on all four sides to allow the installation of other flammable materials without creating a fire hazard. Fill the 2-inch space with sheet metal.
- The brick chimney walls must be at least 4 inches thick.
- The end of the chimney must not protrude more than 4 centimetres from the chimney cowl. The height of the finished chimney must be approximately 3 feet above the highest point of the structure.
- Finally, it is important to inspect and sweep your chimney every 6 months or annually to ensure its longevity. It is advisable to hire an approved chimney sweeper to carry out cleaning and inspection services.
If you like the idea of building a masonry chimney for your home, you should know that such chimneys should be inspected regularly to make sure they are in good condition. This prevents costly repairs and material damage due to leaks. If you keep your stone fireplace in optimal condition, you will enjoy its traditional and attractive appearance for years to come.
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