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D725A 05-31-2012 11:56 AM

Fireplace Floor Sag
3 Attachment(s)
We hope to enclose this brick fireplace with a new wood/stone mantle and change out the old tile hearth. Also need to sand the floors. As you an see from the photos, the hearth pitches downward from the fireplace; and the floor pitches downward toward the fireplace; the low point being around where the hearth ends. It's a 1924 house so some sagging is expected. However I'm concerned there might be structural issues--you can see the flooring crack on the side of the fireplace. I'm assuming we should do floor repairs before we cap the fireplace and floor sand. I doubt this sag can be corrected without a huge expense, nor may it be necessary, but I'd like to get some in put from you all. I was told that a previous owner oversanded the current floors; we may choose to do a buffing instead of re-sanding as they're generally in good shape and to keep the orange cast.

Window_Advisor 05-31-2012 01:42 PM

That's what realtors call charm. :rolleyes: But seriously that looks like just settling over the years. I have a fireplace that has the exact same tile for the heart and it has settled and looks pretty much just like your fireplace.

It's hard to say if there's any structural issues without looking at the floor joist below to see if they are cracked or overstressed, but again this looks pretty typical for the age of your home. I would do the floor repairs on the oak.

It looks to me like you could do two things when you install the heart. One you could chip away the cement closest to the firebox and install the new heart flush with the old flooring and it would make it look straighter probably not level. Two you can install the heart where the edge comes above the oak floor about a half inch to three quarters. They make something called a heart strip that is made for this transition.

Picture of hearth strip (it lays flat not straight up like the picture shows)

nealtw 05-31-2012 05:13 PM

Can you see the floor joist set from below?

joecaption 06-01-2012 05:18 AM

This problum needs to be address from under the floor not on top.
Any old house I've ever worked on had over spaned floor joist, where built to low to the ground, or poorly built sinking piers.
Also very common to see where someone at some time has cut the joist to make room for HVAC, plumbing, wiring ect. so that's also something to look at.
You also need to check them for any insect or fungus damage.
Many times we have had to pore new footing and add a beam down the middle of a room and jack up the floors to take the bounce and sag out.
Not a fun job, but simple enough for almost any DIY.

EZHangDoor 06-01-2012 07:03 AM

Also check to make sure the FP isn't heaving or raising. Look under the floor system to see where the problem is coming from first.

D725A 06-01-2012 08:47 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Thanks. From what I know of the HVAC routing, no joists were cut for that. The basement was finished so the corresponding area below is sheetrocked, but there is a sag measurable by level, but not really visible to the eye. Back in the 1970s a former homeowner did install two lolly columns off to the side of this area, I believe sagging in that area was a result of plumbing leaks. The beam supported by the lolly columns is level. See attached photo. note that the direction of the sag requiring the column is different than that of the fireplace. (90 degree difference.)

nealtw 06-01-2012 09:34 AM

I have worked on one fireplace floor thing just like this, but I don't knopw enough about chimneys to say they are all the same. That one was a concrete hearth built into the chimney. It looked like the framed up the floor joists leaving the space for the hearth, braced up a bottom to that area and filled it with concrete. The house and the chimney settled or moved at a different rate and this thing couldn't slide past the joist and broke at the chimney. Now the floor which was already under framed was also carring some of the weight of the concrete. There was rebar in the concrete and it was a bear to remove. We were able to restucture the floor from below and save the floor.

D725A 06-02-2012 08:45 AM

Thanks. So the question is who is the ideal professional to take a look at this? Structural engineer maybe --if they know old residential and work regularly on-site as opposed to just in an office. A very experienced GC--like Mike Holmes--would be good.

nealtw 06-03-2012 08:58 PM

Nope: a general contractor will give you the benifet of his knowledge or best guess just like meny of us here. If you want structure fixed by some one you can go back to for twenty years, you get an engineer. He designs the fix and you hire a contractor to follow his instruction no guess work. You will have to expose the framing below so it can be looked at.

BridgeMan 06-04-2012 02:41 PM


Originally Posted by D725A (Post 73502)
. . . . A very experienced GC--like Mike Holmes--would be good.

Only if you're easily impressed with his muscle underwear display. Back when I occasionally watched his show, I had more than a few moments of "cringing," listening to some of his incorrect engineering decisions made without basis of fact.

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