Using reclaimed materials in construction is becoming a popular way to save money and reduce our carbon footprint. This is also something you can do if you are building or replacing a fireplace. If the bricks are in good condition, you can salvage them from an old fireplace or chimney and reuse them to build your new one. It is not unusual for builders to use sections of antique fireplaces in new homes. Since it will be covered with new masonry, your average Joe will be able to tell that the bricks have been used before.
Where to Find Reclaimed Bricks
You can still build a strong structure with old bricks but you have to think about a few things first. You can’t just use bricks without knowing exactly where they came from, or at the very least, that the supplier is reputable. Salvage companies offer various types of building materials to homeowners and builders. If you have contacts with contractors, you might be able to find out about demolition jobs that are underway. Sometimes they pull down structures for remodeling purposes, and the materials are reusable. It is unlikely that you will get enough bricks to complete all of the chimney and fireplace. Using salvage materials will help to lower your costs and you might even save time sourcing the materials you will need.
What You Need to Look Out For
While salvage companies generally offer items that are still in reasonable conditions, reclaimed materials are sometimes not without problems. You can of course talk to your contractor about any reclaimed materials you find. Check reclaimed bricks for white deposits, known as efflorescence. This shows that water soaked through the bricks making them less than ideal for use in new projects. With bricks it is always necessary to look for cracks or other defects. If you are in doubt, it is best to avoid the purchase and look elsewhere.
If any of the reclaimed bricks will end up in the chimney, this makes the use of a sealant even more pressing. A certified chimney sweep will know the right products. You can use reclaimed bricks in your fireplace and make it very attractive. Explore options like marble insets to help give the fireplace a finished look. The most important consideration is that the bricks should be able to stand up to the heat of the fireplace. Be very selective so that you will not have to deal with repairs shortly after putting in the fireplace. Most importantly, don’t attempt chimney work by yourself, especially if using reclaimed materials.
Call us here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service to inspect your chimney once it is complete. We’ll help you make sure everything is up to par and it’s ready for the upcoming winter. Remember to schedule your chimney inspection and cleaning before you start the first fire during fall or winter. Any type of blockage in the flue can be extremely dangerous to people and animals living in your household. Call us at 610-626-2439 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.