Author Topic: Any tips on cutting through a BRICK wall?  (Read 3796 times)

lukebuz

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Any tips on cutting through a BRICK wall?
« on: September 22, 2015, 04:35:11 PM »
So, I'm looking to put some crawlspace vents in my house that were bricked over (no idea why...they need to be there!), and the contractors want $300 x 2 = $600 for the job.
It would consist of removing about 6 bricks each, and halving 2 bricks on each side for the opening.

Can I just get a diamond blade for my air angle grinder and have at it?  Is there anything to watch out for?

Seems like it'd be pretty easy, but I don't want all of our bricks to crack or anything!

Sojourner

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Re: Any tips on cutting through a BRICK wall?
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2015, 04:46:19 PM »
Diamond blade on an angle grinder will slice right thru it.  Wear eye, ear and dust protection.  If you have a helper, they can hold a shop vac hose near the cut and catch a lot of the dust.  There will be a lot of dust.

For angle grinders, I prefer a paddle switch.  It's safer in case the tool gets away from your grip, it will cut power and begin to shut down once the paddle is released.  With a hard on/off-type switch, the grinder will just keep spinning dangerously until it is unplugged or otherwise turned off.

lukebuz

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Re: Any tips on cutting through a BRICK wall?
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2015, 05:03:27 PM »
excellent, thanks for the advice.  I presume a "paddle switch" is just the type that is on until you release it, and it shuts off?  I'd be using my air compressor and air tool, so they don't really "lock on" like that.

Any tips, or perhaps just a quick outline of how you'd approach it?
I was thinking I'd just make a plunge cut and trace around the motor lines, right?  I'm a fairly competent DIY'er, but never done any masonry work before (though lots and lots of tiling).

Also, for a 8x16" (1 cinderblock size), do I need a Lintel?  The metal strip at the top (never even heard of these...)
« Last Edit: September 22, 2015, 05:44:03 PM by lukebuz »

Sojourner

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Re: Any tips on cutting through a BRICK wall?
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2015, 09:00:54 PM »
In the OP you mentioned these were openings that were previously filled in at some point.  If so, you shouldn't need a lintel if it was originally structurally sound.

In the OP you described the wall being made of bricks, but your last post refers to an 8x16 cinderblock (CMU block?), so I'm having some trouble picturing the project.  Are you sure you can't just attach a concrete chipping tool to your compressor and break the bricks or block out in small chunks like a mini jack hammer?  Chip it out from the center and work outwards to the edges.  If it was a previous rectangular opening, the perimeter I would suppose is a mortar joint that can be cleanly removed with a concrete chisel and small sledge hammer.  Or at least this is how I'm picturing it.


lukebuz

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Re: Any tips on cutting through a BRICK wall?
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2015, 10:35:22 AM »
Sorry, I wasn't super clear.  It's a standard brick facade on a standard brick house.  I'll be making an opening 1 cinderblock (yes, CMU) in size (the brick is over cinderblock, except where these vents are at, the cinderblock is missing) for a crawlspace vent.  The whole issue is that they bricked over the vent opening, instead of putting a vent in!   No idea why - they put the vents in almost all the other openings (except these 2).
So, I basically need to remove the bricks from the opening, and motar the vent in.
Should I forgot about cutting through it, and just chisel is out?  See the photos!
I'd guess I chisel at the center motor joint, and work out to the edges?
For the 1/2 brick overhang remaining, I'd get a small motor cutoff wheel, and cut that one...

Sojourner

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Re: Any tips on cutting through a BRICK wall?
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2015, 11:22:14 AM »
You probably want a straight clean perimeter edge for outward finish appearance, so I would mark the desired perimeter and plunge cut the brick around the entire perimeter as deep as you can cut with the tool you're using.  Larger diameter blade will of course cut deeper.

Then knock the brick (to be removed) out with a sledge hammer.  The perimeter cut will keep the demo neat so the bricks to remain around the vent opening are not cracked or damaged if carefully done.  IOW, the cut you've made won't allow the impact of your hammer to transfer to the brick to remain.

The hardest part to do neatly will be the 4 corners where a round blade will not allow for much depth of cut into the brick due to the blade's shape.  You can drill holes at each corner if you have the proper concrete drilling tools.  Or you can overcut the brick a little at each corner using the grinder, but the outward appearance will not be as clean.  You will probably need to use the grinder again to do some fine tuning cleanup as nec.

Make sure the new opening you create is exactly the size needed to receive the new vent for a proper fit.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Any tips on cutting through a BRICK wall?
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2015, 12:05:57 PM »
Are you having moisture problems?  Have you calculated the total required vent space per code?  If so, are you short?   How much (as a percentage) would the two vents add?   

   

lukebuz

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Re: Any tips on cutting through a BRICK wall?
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2015, 12:40:29 PM »
Yes, the crawlspace is dry in all areas expect 1 corner of the house, where there is zero ventilation (where these 2 vents are blocked)!  In this corner, it gets a little wet, and stays wet quite a while.  No plumbing leaks, as it's mostly dried out from having no rain for the last 3 weeks.

Adding this vent will take us from 6 to 8; so 25% more total, but 100% more in this corner!

I'm assuming this really needs to be done.  They left the spaces, but veneered over them :(

Gone Fishing

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Re: Any tips on cutting through a BRICK wall?
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2015, 12:50:03 PM »
Yes, the crawlspace is dry in all areas expect 1 corner of the house, where there is zero ventilation (where these 2 vents are blocked)!  In this corner, it gets a little wet, and stays wet quite a while.  No plumbing leaks, as it's mostly dried out from having no rain for the last 3 weeks.

Adding this vent will take us from 6 to 8; so 25% more total, but 100% more in this corner!

I'm assuming this really needs to be done.  They left the spaces, but veneered over them :(

Cool, one last question, is the corner suffering from poor drainage or splash back on the outside? Perhaps they bricked up the vents to prevent water from coming in?

 

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