Supporting the Chimney Breast

One of the major pieces of work we had to do was install some beams in the attic to support the existing chimney breast.

We wanted to move the one that was in our snug, as moving lots of walls around meant that it would be in the corner of the room, and we wanted it to be more central on the wall.

In order to do this, we needed to take the chimney breast down in both the snug, and in the bedroom above it (as this gave us more room in the bedroom so it seemed to make sense to do both rooms – the supporting beams would need to hold less weight this way).

Lee designed a structural support that essentially was two 5 meter long beams that ran the width of the room and sat on the solid walls at each end. These both sat either side of the chimney breast, with one smaller beam spanning them – holding up the chimney.

In order to be able to get the beams into the house (5 meters is a lot of steel to fit in!) they were each designed in two sections that could then be bolted together.

We have a tiny attic space (you’ll notice all of our bedrooms have sloped walls because they’re in the eaves of the house) and so we decided it would be much easier for the builders for them to just pull the bedroom ceiling down to access the beams.

It wouldn’t be a big job to patch it up with plasterboard, and we’d need to get a lot of rooms re plastered anyway, so it wasn’t worth the extra time it would take the builders to try and install the beams in the tiny attic space we have – to be honest I think if we’d asked that of them it would have been an impossible task.

The chimney breast is the grey brick you can see in the walls. Two beams both needed fitting with one end either side of this chimney breast, and the other side 5 meters away, above the stairs.

The other end of the beams needed fitting on the solid wall to the right of the stairs. Because we have a doorway here, we needed to fit a lintel first to support it better.

The lintel in place.


The first beam fitted…

… and bolted together

The second beam also in place.

Once the second beam was in, they could span these with a third (smaller) beam which the chimney breast now sits on. This meant they could start to pull the chimney breast down below this.

They were fitting the beams at the same time as doing various other jobs so in total in took them two day – allowing time for the mortar to go off on the pad stones (thick concrete blocks) that they’ll fitted underneath each beam.

Getting these fitted was a major job – and one Lee would really have struggled to do alone (those beams are at least a two man job) so that’s one more thing done now!