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An engineer (when I bought my house) said I should fire-block my fireplace. Does anyone know what this means and how to do it?

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Actually, "Fire-block the attic" might have been what he said. –  JeffG Mar 5 '11 at 14:44

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I am not exactly sure what your engineer friend means by fire block. He may have meant fire brick or even a flue liner. In either case, before you use a fireplace for the first time with an unknown history, it is extremely wise to have it professionally cleaned and inspected with a camera. There could be several conditions that can be dangerous, including loose or missing tile sections, no tile at all, dried out and missing mortar joints, improperly sealed thimbles, just to mention a few.

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The engineer was referring to an opening in the fireplace alcove/cavity which is only visible from the attic; the void above the firebox, through which the flue ascends. When in the attic of my single storey (which is not easy to enter), the void appears as a hole, which one could fall into, however only about 5 feet, until the fall is broken by the top of the firebox. This fireplace does have an unknown history, but it was also said that the refractory brick veneer/liner inside the firebox was also cracked, in need of replacement. The fireplace is builder-grade, may need replacing. –  JeffG Mar 5 '11 at 14:42

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