Removing a chimney

utherFebruary 4, 2014

Hello all,

As part of our kitchen reno, we are removing a non-functioning chimney that runs up the middle of the house between the kitchen and the half bath. This will allow us to move the entrance to the half bath so that it won't feel like it's IN the kitchen anymore. (yay!) It will also make the half bath a bit larger. (double yay!)

We are DIYers, but would prefer not to tackle this project ourselves. The good news is we have already done some of the pre-work:

1. The old hot water heater used to vent through this chimney, so we remedied that.

2. Last year when we had the roof done, the roofers removed everything above the roofline for us, so the attic just has a stump of a chimney in the floor.

So, I am wondering how much I should expect something like this to cost, and what type of person should I call for a quote? Mason, chimney expert, demolitionist???? :)

I'm so looking forward to getting this done because once the half bath is all set, the flooring for the kitchen and half bath can be installed! Every job is connected to another job....


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If nothing else vents through that chimney, you should be able to have just about anyone demo that chimney. I did one in my first renovation - it's a bit messy - but the hardest part was hauling the bricks out of the house.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 9:06AM
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Hold on! You should get a structural engineer's report before you do that. A lot of the old chimneys have ceiling joists and even second floors dogged into the stack and are actually important load bearing members. After you've gotten that report, and know for certain, then pretty much any contractor can do the job if you don't want to DIY It is DIYable if it's not load bearing. It's just the filthiest hardest job you'll probably ever tackle. As far as costs, from someone licensed and insured so that if he messes up and damages your home with the rubble, maybe $1500 low, and 4K high if it's load bearing. Until the project starts though, sometimes you don't know what you can't see.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 9:22AM
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When we attempted to remove the chimney in our previous old house (1916 Arts and Crafts), we encountered exactly what live_wire describes. When they attempted to remove the chimney, you could visibly see the second floor start to sag several inches. The carpenters had to immediately brace the second floor to prevent a major problem. This was in 2001, and part of a whole house renovation, so I can't really give you a cost.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 11:05AM
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We are in portland, OR and just finished filling our final Dropbox with brick from a chimney we demo'd. The chimney dated to around 1948, it was probably about 22 feet from the basement thru the single level and out the roof. I think the footprint was about 7'x5'?

A general contractor quoted us $2000 to remove it, but the house is totally gutted. It is a ridiculously messy job so I imagine it would be a lot more expensive if they had to be careful and work around protecting walls and floors.

Since the ceiling was opened up and the basement is unfinished we could tell the chimney wasn't supporting the structure and it just went from the floor of the basement thru a hole in the ceiling. We opted to rent a tool from Home Depot - an impact chisel? - and do it ourselves. Husband demo'd in two or three 4 hour sessions. I did a lot if the hauling. We found that a local recycler has brick drop boxes for a flat rate of $185 per 10 yard box.

Above the firebox, he just dropped the bricks down the chimney and I thru them out the front door (this is a major fixer, no concern for landscape); that probably took two of us 8 hours. I later hauled the pile of brick to the drop box, 2 hours and then my husband demo'd the rest if the chimney in the basement and hauled it outside and up a hill to Dropbox for 3 hours.

That may be more info than you bargained for. We actually enjoyed the project. The weather cooperated, it was good exercise, a break from our littles and I think it only cost us about $300 in rentals and Dropbox costs plus time.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 12:03PM
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Thank you, live wire, I will definitely take your advice and make sure it is not load bearing before demo.

Benjesbride, that is exactly the detail I was looking for! We have a finished basement (the chimney runs through a closet down there) so we are going to have to be careful, but your story makes me think we could save a bundle doing it ourselves. Luckily, we have handy friends who work for food and I love to cook for a crowd! :)

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 12:46PM
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If you've never consulted a structural engineer before, they're totally worth it. A contractor came through this house and quoted us $5-6000 in complex structural/framing repairs. Yikes. The structural engineer walked around with us for an hour at $65 and said, the contractor's plan was all wrong and provided a much simpler approach at about a third the cost.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 1:17PM
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live wire oak's point is also an example of why "They don't build 'em like they used to." and it's a good thing they don't. They were pretty oblivious to fire hazards in the old days, using chimneys for framing pockets and no firestopping in stud bays with balloon framing to boot. Yikes.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 12:23AM
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Just to follow up, in case anyone has the same question:

After making sure that the chimney was free standing and not holding anything up but itself, we hired a chimney specialist to do the removal. He charged $1350 and hauled all the demo away. It took 2 days and was messy but not awful.

We kept the cost low by doing the wall opening ourselves and will also close the walls back up ourselves.

The worst part, IMO, was the faint smell of 90 year old soot that lingered for a few hours.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 9:34AM
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