A chimney in the middle of your home can be disruptive and unsightly. Oftentimes, they are a holdover from an earlier time and the chimney is no longer even in use. If this is the case, you may want to think about removing it.
To remove a chimney from the middle of your house, first, check to make sure it isn’t structural. Dismantle the bricks starting at the top and throw them down into a dumpster. Then, patch the roof and any subfloor if your home has multiple stories.
In this article, we have covered all the steps to removing an unused chimney. By following these steps, you can remove your chimney safely and efficiently without making too much of a mess.
Before You Begin
Before you start removing bricks, there are quite a few things you are going to want to do. A chimney removal is not something that is going to be done in an afternoon. There are a lot of safety considerations and legal checks to make.
Check with your local building codes to make sure that you can legally remove the chimney. Some areas prohibit this type of removal and you can easily get slapped with a hefty fine. You don’t want to have to put the chimney back halfway through taking it down.
Also, check to make sure that the chimney is not structural. If it is in the middle of the room, odds are it is not. However, check for any beams that may be resting on the chimney itself. These could be indicators that it is holding up the ceiling or second floor.
Tools You Will Need
A mortar chisel is a sharp, wide chisel that will be perfect for cutting through the brick adhesive. Mortar tends to be very brittle. The chisel should break it up easily. It is important to remember that brick and mortar relies on pressure, not necessarily strength.
A metal mallet is essential for this job. Make sure that you have one with a thick rubber handle that won’t transfer energy to your hand. Without that, your hand will tire incredibly quickly from the vibrations.
You will want a heavy rope for lowering the brick down with. By bundling the brick and lowering it from the top instead of one by one, you can save time and energy. It may seem like a better idea to throw it off the roof into the dumpster, but this is an energy suck.
Step 1: Rent a Dumpster
You are going to want to rent a dumpster in order to get rid of all the excess brick and mortar. Your chimney may also have a liner inside it that will also have to be disposed of. By renting a dumpster, you are ensuring that you won’t get left with all the refuse.
If you don’t want to rent a dumpster, you could always find someone to take the brick. People are always looking for free raw materials. Posting to your town’s online free forums may attract someone who will come pick it up.
If you are an inveterate DIYer, you may also want to hold on to the excess brick. You never know when a project like a brick patio might come up. When storing it, make sure it is not on soft ground where it can start to sink.
Step 2: Clean the Chimney
No matter what, you are going to want to completely clean your chimney of dust and soot. This is to avoid getting it in your house as well as in your face. During this entire process, it is best to wear a respirator if you have access to one.
You can clean your chimney yourself if you like. Starting from the top, sweep down with a telescoping chimney broom. The soot and dust will all fall to the bottom so if you have an open hearth in the house, be sure to cover it.
If you don’t want to clean the chimney yourself, you can hire someone else to do it. This is recommended if you are dismantling the chimney. A professional chimney sweep has the tools and experience to do the most thorough job.
Step 3: Rig a Pulley System
To transport the bricks from the top of the chimney down, you are going to want some kind of a pulley system. This will allow you to bundle the bricks and lower them safely without endangering anyone. It will also keep you from wearing yourself out.
It is best if you have a nearby tree to hang the rope from. Rig up the rope so the brick bundle is even with you and can be pulled off the roof. Always be sure that no one is standing under the brick bundle when the pulley system is in operation.
When choosing a nearby tree to hang the pulley from, make sure it is strong enough. Bricks can be incredibly heavy, especially with excess mortar attached. Be certain that any branch you use won’t break under the load.
Step 4: Start At the Top
Start on the roof. Chisel away at the capstone and bricks and let the mortar break away. It should be brittle enough to start to come apart if your chisel is sharp. Remove the bricks one by one and lower them down into the dumpster.
It might be tempting to start at the bottom of the chimney and let it fall in order to demolish it that way. This is incredibly dangerous and should never be done. The weight of the bricks is enough to completely destroy the house and anyone in it. Always take bricks from the top first.
Step 5: Patch the Roof and Subfloor
Depending on how many stories your home is, you may have to do some patching. You will have to patch the roof no matter what. This may be an excellent time to put in a skylight if that is something you have wanted to do. The placement for it is just right.
Any subfloor that has a hole must also be patched. If you are not familiar with this process, it may be best to hire out a contractor. Multi-story subfloors can have structural considerations that you may not know about.
What causes a chimney to pull away from the house?
If the concrete footing under your chimney has started to deteriorate, the chimney could start to lean. It could also lean if the rebar was not properly installed or has started to crack. This issue is generally seen in older homes in areas that have freeze and thaw cycles.
How much does a brick chimney weigh?
A brick chimney can weigh as much as half a ton if it is big enough. This is why it is so important that you do not try to dismantle it from the bottom. That huge amount of weight is enough to cause it to collapse unexpectedly.
How do you straighten a leaning chimney?
Leaning chimneys are usually straightened using something called helical piers. Helical piers are put underneath the chimney until good soil is reached. Then, the chimney is straightened with hydraulics and reinforced on the helical piers.