Help! Unsupported bricks in ceiling of remodel.

4 Replies

My fiance and I are remodeling the finished basement of our "new" 1920s' home into an income property. We haven't encountered many issues until today when we opened the ceiling drywall and are horrified to have found a crumbly, 5' by 2.5' section of bricks overhead with no supports! If we hadn't opened the ceiling, it could have killed someone!

We have no idea how to handle them. We've talked to our contractor and he isn't sure either. They are next to the brick chimney for the upstairs fireplace, so maybe they are an old hearth? The bricks are smaller than the bricks used for the current hearth. We don't want to take them down until we know why they are there in case they are there for a reason.

If anyone who's what is going on, or knows someone we can contact about this, please let me know!

A lot of pictures seem to have posted sideways. The bricks are on the ceiling. 

Your orientation of the photos gives confusion on the location of the brick. @Kat Robertson

There is a chance it's a brick arch spanning between two masonry points therefore wouldn't necessarily need intermediate supports but it is hard to tell not being there to assess. Also, I don't see much crumbling, a few spalls but it's not horrid. 

To be safe, get an engineer to come review the condition. 

Jared Smith, RA 

Disclaimer: I am an architect, but I am not YOUR architect. I am not giving professional advice only general information. Contact a local architect/engineer for a detailed consultation specific to your project/locale.


I have concrete trenchers out and they know what it is! They said it is like a flue so that smoke from the 1920 boiler would bypass the main chimney. He said it was sturdy and that he's seen them before. I think I'll talk to someone about some cool industrial supports for the "just in case" scenario, but it's a relief to know why it is there. Thanks for the advice! 

@Kat Robertson

So this is a horizontal flue chase?  If there is nothing in it, I would consider removing it. You still need to verify and understand how this supported. You need to have someone with more technical knowledge to look at this in my opinion.