Post by Mike and Catherine
Another project has been checked off the must-do-but-don't-really-want-to-do renovation list. That project was to stabilize the base of the west chimney.
As you can see in the photograph, after almost 200 years, it was showing some wear. Of particular concern were the vertical stress cracks that run down the base, and there were a few more substantial ones on the sides. Thankfully, this was remedied by building an encapsulation around the original fieldstone base - a girdle if you will.
Our restoration masons who repaired our chimneys were in charge of this task. Here, Andy has dug down around the base to form a footing, and is placing the first pieces of reinforcing steel.
After the footing had been poured, the reinforcing steel for the rest of the structure was erected, first with vertical bars as shown.
Here is Edward tying off the horizontal reinforcing bars. This is a truly tedious task, and Mike can attest to the colorful conversation that evolves when distraction from a mundane endeavor helps pass the time.
Prior to pouring the walls, Edward and Andy had removed much of the loose mortar from between the stones, which made room for the concrete to penetrate the stone base to 'glue' everything together. This really accentuated the vertical cracks.
Next up was the formwork for the concrete walls.
The forms were then filled with concrete, which was pumped through a tiny window from a concrete mixer parked out on the street.
And at last, the forms were stripped off to reveal a chimney base solid once more.
I realize that these kinds of posts are not the most fascinating; they certainly are not particularly pretty. But I do think it's important to truly understand what may be entailed when purchasing an older home (for those old house owners as well as old house dreamers).
We love our home as much as the day we bought it but we have learned a great deal more from new lessons on what it truly means to restore an old house (having to remove the rose colored glasses from time to time).