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I have a brick fireplace that is 8 feet wide by 39.5 inches tall.

The brick is pulling away from the wall. Attached pictures show what is happening.

I can see the brick was attached to the studs with nails.

One idea is to use a heavy duty jack to push the brick back into place, but wondering how to make the brick adhere to the studs (if it is even possible to safely move the brick using a jack).

Any thoughts on this project would be appreciated.

Thank you,

Left side of FP

Front of FP

Right side of FP

  • Did this happen quickly/recently, or has it been slowly pulling away over the years? – bitsmack Aug 7 '18 at 19:06
  • It has been happening over the years – RDotLee Aug 7 '18 at 21:28
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I would not leave it as is and cover the gap. I would apply a thick application of heavy duty heat resistant construction adhesive to the studs that you can reach and then push the brick face back to the studs either by jacking as you mentioned or better in my opinion would be :

Carefully Drill 1/8" holes through the mortar then enlarge to 1/4" directly in line with the studs on each side so they are just big enough for a 1/4 lag bolt. One in the motor just under the second coarse of brick and another about 18 to 24 inches lower. I would then cut two 2x4's just shorter than the distance from the hearth to the bottom of the mantel. drill holes in the 2x4's that match the holes in the motor. Now you can use a lag through the boards with a large/wide washer to slowly suck the entire face back to the studs.

I would pre-drill a pilot hole in the stud with long bit, 3/16?, so your lags can get a started and not bind to much and break. Apply your adhesive and place the 2x4's in place, put the lags in place and use a ratchet to tighten the lags. Start with a lower one and work your way around in circular pattern. Go slowly, two turns at a time on each of the bottom ones and then the same on the top, slowly drawing the face back to the studs. You will need to use your best judgment to know when to stop, look at the gap, "feel" resistance when you get close. You want to make sure that the adhesive is contacting the back of the bricks. Leave the the 2x4 in place 24 hours for the adhesive to cure. You can then remove the lags and boards, patch the holes with mortar.

AS added insurance i would install a piece of quarter round or some other molding just under the mantle up against the brick. Glue and screw the molding to the mantle so it acts as a stop if the adhesive should fail in the future.

Mind you this i just an idea and i do not know if the whole face will move back without some damage/cracking of the mortar joints. Perhaps the middle will bow if the old fasteners bind? Maybe a 2x4 in the middle if you can line it up with a stud. Or maybe a piece of 5 quarter plywood cut to the size of the brick face and placed between the 2x4's and the brick work. Again this is all theoretical.

IF you go the leave it in place and cover the gap method i would at least secure it with quarter round molding under the mantal if nothing else.

  • Thank you for your solution, I appreciate your attention to detail. I might also look at using a 2x4 and the jack to brace up the middle. So I can have the 2x4's on the sides as you describe and the jack in the middle pushing against the middle 2x4. If I get the brick moved successfully, was thinking about using masonry anchors and drill those in the side of the brick. Then I could use something to attach the anchors on each side to the studs. – RDotLee Aug 7 '18 at 20:12
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Mortar shrinks over time, very slowly, but it can be worse/quicker if the mortar was improperly formulated when originally installed. Trying to push it back will likely crack it and nothing is going to make it "adhere" to the studs.

It if were me, I'd just leave it alone and put some molding around the edges to cover the gap, making sure you have some added room over the brick. Attach the molding only to the wall, not the brick, because it will continue to move over time.

  • Thanks for the response. We thought about the molding option also. It appears the brick is leaning against the fireplace structure, so potentially it is done moving? – RDotLee Aug 7 '18 at 2:04
  • No, probably not, but the movement is so imperceptibly slow that it might take 10 years for it to bend another 1/4 inch. – J. Raefield Aug 7 '18 at 2:17
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    Umm, I'm not so sure about the "cover it and forget about it" trick on this; that looks to be quite a bit of movement. I would not be comfortable with my daughter lying in front of that on winter evening, but then again I live in Cal. where the ground shakes a bit occasionally. – Jimmy Fix-it Aug 7 '18 at 4:30

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