best way to remove an old non used chimney

carpet_kicker2February 18, 2009

i recently purchased an old farm home built in 1900 and i am looking for advice on the best and safest way to remove an old chimney out of my kitchen .

i am very handy but this is something i have never done .

any advice would be great .

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When removing a lower cabinet in the kitchen of the house we had just purchased, the plaster over the chimney was damaged, exposing the brick. I was in good shape, so I simply knocked all the plaster off, exposing two sides of the square chimney. I loved it! It gave the room some charm and character.

Any chance it would be a nice cozy touch?


    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 12:45AM
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There's no easy way to remove a chimney. It's a dirty, messy, somewhat dangerous job. The standard practice is to start at the roof and work your way down, dropping the loosened bricks into the chimney as you go. This leaves a few tons of brick, mortar and possibly flue tiles to haul out of the basement. How many walls will need to be opened up varies, of course, from house to house. Be aware, too, that once a chimney is removed, you've created a chimney-like opening without any sort of firestops which will undoubtably violate all local building codes and a good deal of common sense.
I'd suggest thinking really carefully about whether removing the chimney is really necessary or desireable. If the chimney is in poor shape and/or unlined, it can be repaired much more easily than taking it down. Having a spare chimney available for possible installation of a woodstove or other heater needing a Class A vent is a plus for you and any potential buyer in the future. Having a new interior brick chimney built costs anywhere from 8 to 12k dollars. Why destroy such value?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 6:01AM
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I am of the other opinion. Is is not as bad of a job as it sounds. Afterward, I am so thankful we did it as it doubled a clothes closet, solved a major problem with finishing the basement, and even made our 2nd story addition possible. In our case it was an independantly standing structure running through the center of our house. It was ran along the side of one wall that also needed to be cleaned up when done. We had it done by an remodeling guy/friend when he had some free time, so he under charged us at $1200 dollars. It took 2 1/2 days and 2 guys, and yes, it was messy, but mostly grunt work.

They started on the roof, knocking off bricks and dropping them over the side of the house. When they got to the roof line they knocked a hole at the base in the basement, big enough to reach in and take out bricks. One guy was at the top the other at the bottom, continuing to free the bricks one at a time, but now dropping them down the hole. The guy at the bottom pulled them out, and hauled them up out of the basement with 5G buckets. They patched the openings in the roof, ceiling and floor with plywood. On the roof, they had to remove a few shingles around the hole and then patch the whole area. If reading this makes you able to picture the whole process, without getting your stomach in knots about standing on the roof, you probably have the skill to do it. In our case: it was an issue of ladders, a high steep roof and a husband who can't stand heights. ;)

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 9:15AM
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The 'trick' to dismantling brick structures is to remember mortar is very weak in tension, but strong in compression.

Drive a chisel into the highest mortar joint aiming the chisel and hammer slightly upwards.
The brick will lift up and out.
Getting the first brick of each course out is more work thqan the rest of the course.
Once one brick in the course is out, drive the chisel vertically into the joint at the end of the adjacent brick.
The brick will move sideways into the hole left by the previous brick without a lot of work.
Repeat as required.

A plugging chisel can be used to help get the first brick loose by removing the mortar from a joint.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 4:52PM
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if you have enough room to place the chisel and swing a drilling hammer, you can drive under the next brick parallel to its length and pop it up also.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 4:54PM
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Be careful, sometimes your floor joists and support for the entire house is tied into or connected with the chimney somehow and so you wouldnt want to remove it. Or so I was told. I suspect this may be the case with my house because the floor around the chimney on the 2nd floor is quite a bit higher than around the periphery of the house which has settled over time.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 5:46PM
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We just did this two weeks ago - same idea, old walled-in chimney in the kitchen. It didn't extend thru the roof, so it had been unused for decades. Fewer holes to patch! Buying a hammer drill made all the difference. That plus a sledge for the liner, and the chimney was down from the second floor to below the kitchen floor level in about a day. We left the basement portion intact. Dusty, but the project was well worth it.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 8:46PM
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