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Firebox rebuild or overlay


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The firebox in a recent old house restoration inspection is crumbling and the back appears to be collapsing. The outside of the chimney was also tuck-pointed with a skim coat of mortar (1/8"). That was a joke. I recommended full tuck-pointing, but the builder has refused. I also recommended having the firebox rebuilt. The builder is suggesting doing an "overlay". Any idea what he is talking about? I have stated in my report any repairs are to be done be a licensed masonry contractor to try and control and builder BS repairs.

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I think the "builder" doesn't know what he's talking about.

With the amount of heat created in a fireplace I think anything you attempt to bond to the face of that refractory wall will likely just fail in short order. Tell your client to get a good chimney/fireplace restoration firm like Atlas or Puget Sound Masonry & Restoration out there to look at it and give him/her some estimates. If he's still there, Stan Phair at PSMR spends his whole day doing nothing but restoration estimates.

If you leave it to the "builder" he'll attempt to TP that box with ordinary concrete.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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The firebox in a recent old house restoration inspection is crumbling and the back appears to be collapsing. The outside of the chimney was also tuck-pointed with a skim coat of mortar (1/8"). That was a joke. I recommended full tuck-pointing, but the builder has refused. I also recommended having the firebox rebuilt. The builder is suggesting doing an "overlay". Any idea what he is talking about? I have stated in my report any repairs are to be done be a licensed masonry contractor to try and control and builder BS repairs.

Brad,

I might be reading your post "wrong", but it does not make much sense; overlay and tuckpoint in same sentence does not make sense. Tuckpointing is a skill and parging is a skill and never the twain shall meet!

The builder is a fool!

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Tuckpointing is a 19th century decorative application on a specific type of mortar joint and brick work, most common in England. Yes, the term has been bastardized to mean any smearing of mortar on something, but it ain't tuckpointing. Nor is it pointing or repointing.

There's no recognized masonry repair practice that proposes an 1/8" of mortar smeared on top of existing mortar. Yes, happens all the time. It's what folks that don't understand even a teeny tiny bit about masonry do.

There's no such thing as an "overlay" either. Like Mike said, this is a firebox intended to contain fire. It'd be smart to take that into account, something the builder's not doing.

The builder's working within his circle of ignorance. The folks he consorts with also lack knowledge, but because they only talk amonghts themselves within their little circle of foolishness, they mistakenly imagine themselves to be right and correct.

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The outside of the chimney was also tuck-pointed with a skim coat of mortar (1/8").
That's called a "scrub joint" and it's what unscrupulous contractors sell as re-pointing.

commonbond_2003_pic3.jpg

The builder is suggesting doing an "overlay". Any idea what he is talking about?
An overlay, in masonry terms, refers to applying a thin veneer over a previous solid masonry surface for cosmetics. It's most commonly done to "update" the face of a fireplace (common in some of the home "improvement" or house flipping shows).
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Thanks for all the replies. I do appreciate all comments, this is a great community of inspectors. The scrub joint is exactly what exists on the chimney exterior. Everybody is on-board for a new firebox, except for the builder. The repair is do or die as far as my client is concerned. The terminology varies, but the client is well aware the current repairs are inadequate.

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