Brick Fell Out

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  #1  
Old 03-03-00, 01:14 PM
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I noticed some loose bricks in the back of my fireplace and one actually fell out after the last fire in the fireplace. This is at the base of the firplace not up in the chimney? I guess it isn't safe to use until repaired? Also, can I replace the brick myself and how? I called a place in town and they said it would be $450 to fix bricks (without even looking)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Any ideas?
 
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  #2  
Old 03-03-00, 03:39 PM
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Now you know that masons are well paid. With some care and common sense you can replace the brick and repair damaged mortar yourself.

Use ready mixed mortar.
To replace the brick that has fallen out:
First check the brick for cracks within the unit. If they exist, buy new brick. Otherwise clean the brick (knock off all the old mortar with a hammer and cold chisel and wire brush loose mortar away).
Do the same for the hole where the brick will be placed. Wet the brick and allow surface moisture to disappear (the brick should be moist, but without standing water on the surface).
You'll need a brick trowel or pointing trowel. The second is a smaller version of the larger brick trowel.

Mix the ready mix mortar. Follow the package directions or mix for a minimum of 5 minutes and add water slowly unit the mix looks like the fine line between a stiff mud pie and a loose mud pie. Allow the mortar to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. With your trowel scoop some up and using a short sharp down stroke "seat" the mortar on the trowel and then turn the trowel upside down. If the mortar sticks, the mix is workable, if it falls off it's either too stiff or too loose. Adjust the mix accordingly (more mix, more water, or both) until you have it right.
To patch the hole, apply mortar to all the surfaces in the hole forming a wedge shape. The mortar should not be compressed into a wedge, but should be loosely shaped in a wedge. The back side of the wedge should be about 1/2" high. Do the same on the brick, then carefully insert the brick. If you don't get it right the first time, remove the mortar and discard it, and try it again. It might take a few trials and errors before you get it right, but eventually you will prevail. Readjust the mortar mix if necessary.
Wait 15 to 20 minutes then carefully test the mortar for hardness at the joints: when your finger leaves a slight impression the mortar can be jointed or tooled. Normally a brick jointer would be used. All you need is a smooth round piece of steel or wood that is slightly larger than the joint. Run the jointer in one direction only over the vertical joints then the horizontal joints (with a firm but gentel pressure). The point is to compact and smooth the mortar, and not to rake it out of the joints or move the brick in the process. Wait another 15 minutes or so and brush away mortar crumbs with a wisk broom.

To patch mortar joints (also called tuckpointing or repointing) chisel out the old mortar to a depth of 3/4" to 1", then clean the brick, wet the brick, and follow the same general process as before, only pack the mortar into the joints in 1/4" layers. Here a tuckpointer (another type of trowel) comes in very handy.

 
  #3  
Old 03-03-00, 03:48 PM
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Thank you soooo much! I certainly am going to give it a try. You are right about masons being well paid (is that your trade?). Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to give such good instructions.

Hope you have a great weekend!

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by 2000:
Now you know that masons are well paid. With some care and common sense you can replace the brick and repair damaged mortar yourself.

Use ready mixed mortar.
To replace the brick that has fallen out:
First check the brick for cracks within the unit. If they exist, buy new brick. Otherwise clean the brick (knock off all the old mortar with a hammer and cold chisel and wire brush loose mortar away).
Do the same for the hole where the brick will be placed. Wet the brick and allow surface moisture to disappear (the brick should be moist, but without standing water on the surface).
You'll need a brick trowel or pointing trowel. The second is a smaller version of the larger brick trowel.

Mix the ready mix mortar. Follow the package directions or mix for a minimum of 5 minutes and add water slowly unit the mix looks like the fine line between a stiff mud pie and a loose mud pie. Allow the mortar to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. With your trowel scoop some up and using a short sharp down stroke "seat" the mortar on the trowel and then turn the trowel upside down. If the mortar sticks, the mix is workable, if it falls off it's either too stiff or too loose. Adjust the mix accordingly (more mix, more water, or both) until you have it right.
To patch the hole, apply mortar to all the surfaces in the hole forming a wedge shape. The mortar should not be compressed into a wedge, but should be loosely shaped in a wedge. The back side of the wedge should be about 1/2" high. Do the same on the brick, then carefully insert the brick. If you don't get it right the first time, remove the mortar and discard it, and try it again. It might take a few trials and errors before you get it right, but eventually you will prevail. Readjust the mortar mix if necessary.
Wait 15 to 20 minutes then carefully test the mortar for hardness at the joints: when your finger leaves a slight impression the mortar can be jointed or tooled. Normally a brick jointer would be used. All you need is a smooth round piece of steel or wood that is slightly larger than the joint. Run the jointer in one direction only over the vertical joints then the horizontal joints (with a firm but gentel pressure). The point is to compact and smooth the mortar, and not to rake it out of the joints or move the brick in the process. Wait another 15 minutes or so and brush away mortar crumbs with a wisk broom.

To patch mortar joints (also called tuckpointing or repointing) chisel out the old mortar to a depth of 3/4" to 1", then clean the brick, wet the brick, and follow the same general process as before, only pack the mortar into the joints in 1/4" layers. Here a tuckpointer (another type of trowel) comes in very handy.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

 
  #4  
Old 03-04-00, 08:19 AM
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Hello and thanks to you both admirableone and 2000...:-)

Admirableone, you did an excellent job explaining and detailing the problem.

2000, you did an excellent job posting a well explained, detailed and comprehendible &lt;for the layman to understand&gt; solution to correcting and or replacing the loose and fallen out fireplace bricks.

Anyone reading both your postings will understand and learn something here. Thanks!

{{{There isn't any loose bricks in either of your postings...hahaha}}}

I just hope there isn't any FALLOUT from my posting here! hahaha

Regards,
TomBartco


[This message has been edited by TomBartco (edited March 04, 2000).]
 
  #5  
Old 03-05-00, 10:16 PM
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If the bricks are falling out of your fireplace, that would indicate that there are major problems within the fireplace that have to be corrected before you use it. Relying on a "sight unseen" quote of $450 is as foolish as thinking that replacing a fallen out brick will cure the problem. Get a licensed mason to come out and assess the situation. My guess is you are going to be told that the fireplace needs to be replaced, and that will be considerably more that $450!!
 
  #6  
Old 03-05-00, 10:20 PM
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Oh -- one more thing. You need to consider ALL of the consequences of treating this as a minor problem. It's as serious as a heart attack!! At the very least it could cause your house to catch on fire. (Do you live next door to the fire dept.??)
 
  #7  
Old 03-06-00, 11:46 AM
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Doesn't mortar get old and loose (house built in 1936)? You say it is a sign of something more serious but you don't say what? Could you give me a little more information as to what would cause this.
 
  #8  
Old 03-22-00, 10:03 AM
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A loose brick in a fireplace firebox is a sign that your fireplace firebox has "burned out" or is getting close. The Firebox prbably needs to be rebuilt. Your local mason may have quoted you a price to rebuild the firebox.

You should ask what the price includes. A resposible mason should not offer to plug the hole, but recommend fixing the entire problem. Remember, a fireplace can be very dangerous if it is not repaired correctly.

The fire box is the part of the fireplace that actually contains the fire and, should be built of firebrick, (refractory-High heat). Generally, by the time your firebox is loosing brick it needs to be rebuilt.

A complete rebuilt fireplace should include the back wall, the sides or coving, and the floor. Rebuilding a firebox is a cruddy, nasty, sooty, rotten, dusty, messy, painfull job to do. I used to charge $800 - $1,200 (depending on size), for a complete rebuilt FB, before I decided to let the younger guys have a shot at learning how to rebuild fireboxes.

If you do decide to give the job a go yourself here is a very important point that the others forgot to mention. Let your new brick or firebox cure for 21 days or the new work will crack and it will degrade very quickly. Good Luck!

------------------
 
  #9  
Old 09-24-05, 09:24 PM
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Replacing firebrick, mortar and general fireplace repair

With average abilty to do home improvements is replacing firebrick a chore for a homeowner wanting to do things themselves? We too have cracked brick and non-existant mortar in places (in the back wall of the firebox) I have read thru alot of the fallen brick posts and pretty sure this is involved (and dirty-messy but afraid of it) but a job that is more than just a weekend project. If anyone here is willing to help I have a digital camera to provide photos for a one on one help. Not afraid of getting a pro to do this work but they are expensive and I am wanting to learn how. Also I was told to use Mullitex B for firebox mortar. Anyone use this before?
 
  #10  
Old 09-25-05, 10:30 AM
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I have done about every DIY project known to man.... but would turn down rebuilding a firebox.... Hey - it gets hot in there....and requires specialized materials and skills.... Then again.... if your homeowners insurance is up to date.... I guess they'll pay to rebuild the house after it burns down....
 
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