Archived Q&A and Reviews
We have a fireplace and chimney (about 8 feet tall, external brick) originating in our bedroom on the third floor of our 1940s-ish mixed-style house. We will never use the fireplace and I'm wondering if anyone has 1) removed a chimney like this--were there structural or other issues and roughly how much did it cost? and 2) removed a chimney like this and the entire fireplace--what were the issues and how much did it cost? I am increasingly paranoid that it will kill us in our sleep in the event of an earthquake! Plus it is also quite ugly and it would be nice to have it gone. I have seen previous posts and I am not looking for recommendations at this point, just eager to hear other's experiences and how much it cost. Many thanks.
We also removed a brick chimney for seismic safety reasons. We ended up just removing it from the roofline on up. The rough estimate we were given for completely removing the chimney and repairing the wall (inside and outside the house) was something like 20k. So we opted for just taking off the top, which is where the biggest hazard lies. We had it capped off. I think it was pretty inexpensive (somewhere in the order of a few thousand, though I don't remember how much exactly since we had it done as part of a larger retrofitting project; it will also depend on how tall your chimney is--ours was quite tall). We worried initially that it would look funny to have an incomplete chimney, but it's actually fine. No one has even thought to notice it. If you go this route, though, make sure you have the chimney thoroughly scrubbed before they cap it; otherwise, you'll trap a lot of odor-causing (and possibly toxic) soot in there- -the smell can make its way into your house during warmer weather. A potential benefit to keeping part of the chimney (from the roofline down) is that you can later decide to convert the fireplace with a gas insert, and installation will be relatively easy (they can just vent it out the top). seismically safe
We're looking for someone to dismantle/take down our brick chimney. We don't want to replace it, just take it down. Would a roofer be the right person to ask to do this? Or do we hire a general contractor and then ask a roofer to come in to patch the roof afterward? Looking for recommendations from anyone who has done this - what did you do and whom did you hire? Many thanks! don't want a pile of bricks on my head in the next earthquake...
removing a brick chimney is easy. You should not have to pay much for demolition. Laborers would be happy to do it. You also might try selling the bricks. homeowner
Hi, we used Berkeley Chimneys and they did a great job. Nick did a free estimate, and it ran us about a $1,000, and we felt a lot safer afterwards. The number was 510-528-1002.
We are planning to take out our earthquake-hazard chimney and heard that there is a market for the recycled bricks. Has anyone heard of this? If so, where can we go (ideally East Bay-- but willing to drive a short distance) to sell them and what $$ could we expect to get per brick? Our chimney runs through the middle of our house so I am pretty sure that the bricks will be in very good condition.
Try Urban Ore across from Ashby Lumber. Not sure what they will give you but you can take trade or cash. Old bricks with weathered character are more expensive to buy than new bricks but brick from chimneys usually requires lots of labor to chip off the old mortar. Claudia
When we replaced our chimney with a steel flue, we saved all the bricks and then used them for a new brick walkway in the front garden which looks very nice. However, it took a long time to chip off the big chunks of mortar. I paid my kids to do it, and it took days and days, with buckets of white dust to dispose of afterwards. Many of them were also stained with tar from the years of fires, but actually this turned out to be fine, since it added some variation to the brick walk.
We have determined that we need to remove our three-story chimney and the firebox, fix the exterior wall and part of the roof that will need to be filled in once the chimney is gone, and build a new frame to accommodate the direct vent, zero- clearance fireplace insert that we have picked out. We are doing this for earthquake safety, b/c the chimney is already separating from the house, and for environmental reasons. Can anyone recommend a contractor to do this for us? Or does anyone who has been through this want to pass on pearls of wisdom? Jennifer
I had similar work done, but under very different circumstances, so I'm not sure how useful this will be to you, but here it goes anyway:
As part of a foundation replacement, we excavated out our basement to be deeper. Since the dirt that was supporting the chimney was going, the chimney had to go to. The crew that did the work dismantled the chimney from the top, dropping bricks down the ever-shortening chimney until it was gone. Our chimney didn't run up the exterior of the house, it ran through an interior chase, so we didn't have the exterior finishing issues that you will have.
Our direct-vent fireplace was installed almost a year later by Kidd Services, which we found through the Tubmakers in Berkeley, where we got our fireplace. We were installing two fireplaces, one downstairs and one upstairs, one directly above the other. Running the two ventpipes, with the one for the lower unit having to dodge the upper, was a bit tricky, but they did a good job, and the job took about a day. The whole thing was pretty painless, and we really enjoy our gas fireplace. Carrie
Hi: I recommend Gavan Duffy. His company is called Build It Green General Contractor. He lives in Oakland. He just did a fireplace repair at my home and I am really happy with the results. he is very honest and conscientious. He was very accurate in his bid BEFORE he started the job and did not surprise me with any extra costs at the END of the job. His phone number is 510.47.0218. or gavan [at] builditgreenonline.com. catk
We live in a small bungalow in berkeley. We have a very attarctive but large working fireplace in our living room. Aesthetically, it is a nice detail in our house. However, it is not very practical -- we don't use it and it takes up the largest wall in the livingroom. Would we be hurting the value of our house by removing it? Also, does anyone know what it would entail to take it out? The chimney is inside the house and is part of the design of the fireplace and the wall... Thanks Put the fire out?
I feel your pain. We were in a similar situation with a previous home. I think you should keep it, especially if you are concerned about it affecting your home value. If you planned to stay there for the next 20-30 years, you could go for it, as when it does come time to sell, you'll still make a bundle. But in the short term--5 to 10 years--you should keep it. I can't imagine buying a sweet bungalow that doesn't have a fireplace. It just seems wrong.