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Question DetailsAsked on 3/26/2014

Can we tear down a fireplace inside the house without having to remove the chimney from the roof?

Fireplace is in wall between two rooms. Odd placement and blocks flow of both rooms making them both very small. We want to remove it and open up the wall between the two rooms for more space and better flow. Can the chimney be left in the attic or can it be left on the roof if you take out the brick structure inside the house?

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IF it is a metal prefab or "readyset" chimney with the only brick (if any) being the hearth/firebox area, then I guess you could leave the metal "chimney" in place above it, being sure of course to timber frame in the bottom of it so it can't slip down or tilt over. If you do so, be sure to permanently block off ALL fireplaces leading into it so one is not accidentally used (say by a housesitter or new buyer), and have the bottom and top capped solid (top with a sloping cap) to keep moisture out - the top to keep outside moisture and rain and critters out, the bottom so warm house air does not get up in there and cause rust and mildew. However, you do have to leave a small bit of airflow crack somewhere on the outside or it will creak and crackle with temperature changes - usually just the natural gap where the cap is screwed or riveted on will handle this fine, if top seam is not caulked.

If brick, I guess you could take out just the hearth and firebox/mantle by installing a LOT of replacement structure to carry the load to the chimney foundation, but I am sure it would cost a lot more than just taking it out - especially as you would not want support members carrying down through the area you want to open up. Even if you found an engineer willing to doplans for something like that, you run the risk the local building inspector/official would not buy off on it. Just take it out down to the foundation I would say.

One other thing I have seen in this scenario is blocking off the chimney top, removing the non-strucutralparts like mantle and hearth, then putting a facade around what is left - like a display or bookcase or home theater unit built around it. Of course, for future resale purposes taking it out would avoid possible loss of value from leaving it in.

Bear in mind, in most areas taking out a chimney is going to significantly decrease your house valuation - in the $10-20,000 range I have been told. That is in addition to the $3-6,000 it is likely to cost to remove it and repair the spaces left. (Typically $2-4,000 just for removal down to foundation and disposal).

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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