How to Remove Ground Floor Chimney Breast in 5 Simple Steps
Remove ground floor chimney breast effortlessly and effectively.
Building regulations and safety advice for ground floor chimney breast removal.
Expert advice from professional builders on how to deal with problems that might arise when it comes to ground floor chimney breast removal.
Free Chimney Breast Ground Floor Removal Guide
Before you pick up that hammer and get ready to take out the brickwork that seems to have become an intruder into your much needed living space, get this step by step guide on removing chimney breast from the ground floor the simple and safe way. Here is your free chimney breast ground floor removal guide with everything you need to know starting with what is a chimney breast and why does it matter if it’s on the ground floor or a storey above?
Why do home owners remove them, and what potential problems might be encountered after work begins? How should the job be done, and are there any rules and regulations to adhere to? Let’s find out with the following helpful and informative guide that includes all of the information you need to get started with your ground floor chimney breast removal project.
What is a chimney breast?
Know the construction terms
Before you begin any project around your home, it’s best to first understand the terms used so that you can ask informative questions to contractors or other professionals with whom you may consult. There is much involved in the construction and demolition of a chimney. However, when you are talking about removing a chimney, there are two main parts of it – the stack and the breast.
The chimney breast is the brickwork that encases the actual chimney that extends upward throughout the home. It is typically located inside the home’s structure and takes up space within the walls and rooms as it extends upward to vent out of above the roof line through the stack. The stack is the portion of the brick chimney that you see extending through and above the roof line. It’s purpose is to safely vent the smoke and fumes out and away from the home.
Not everyone lives in a stand-alone, private property home. Many share at least one wall with a neighbouring property. These are called semi-detached or terrace properties. In semi-detached or terrace properties, chimney breasts are typically built back to back in between the two or more individual units which share at least one wall. As many as four fireplaces in one property might be built as two rows of four chimney pots on the stack.
All of this is shared by the adjoining properties below and will require following the Party Wall Act of 1996 if you plan to do any work on any section of the chimney that shares a wall with your neighbour. The reason for this is simply because any work you do inside your home may very well impact the living space of those dwelling on the other side of at least one wall.
When it comes to chimney work, this could also mean soot and debris might come tumbling down into their living space through their chimney breast. And, of course, if they are still using their chimney for fires, you will need to make sure the work is done properly so as not to leave any potential gas or smoke leaks along the structure.
Reasons to remove and problems you may encounter when removing a chimney breast
Why do you want to remove this section of the chimney?
Chimney breasts once served a much needed purpose, to heat the home. But, now that fires are quite often no longer used except for ambiance, the chimney breast seems to be an unwelcome intruder upon the space that could be used for something else. When you take out the chimney breast, you will gain a lot of floor and wall space that is now being wasted for the sake of the brickwork that was once a very necessary feature of the home in years gone by.
How should I go about removing the chimney breast as ground level?
Potential problems that may arise
The most common problem that could arise when you go to take out the chimney breast is that you discover it is actually built into the structure of the home, and removing it could cause a serious hazard since load bearing walls may be depending upon it to stay upright. Before you start chipping away at those bricks, it’s important to first make sure suitable support beams are ready to be incorporated to support and carry any weight above.
A lack of support could potentially mean that the ceilings, walls, and roof come crashing in on you. This would be catastrophic and leave you with a much bigger project of a mess to clean up and renovate. It could also be very dangerous if anyone is in the rooms when they collapse. So, it is a very important step to consider all of the necessary support options before removing a single brick.
Clean up is part of the job
After the chimney breast has been removed and the property is sufficiently supported, there will be a hole left behind where the bricks and fireplace opening once stood. This hole was once used to host a fire but will now become open space to redecorate as you desire. But, first, before you can begin to redecorate and reclaim your space, you will need to patch up the floor and the wall sealing off the demolition holes left behind. The clean up part may be a bit overwhelming with the debris and destruction left in its wake that it seems like more work than the actual chimney breast removal part. But, it is a very important step in the renovation project and quite often will be the most enjoyable part.
Hire a structural engineer
Hiring a structural engineer before the job is done is going to be money well spent. Their services will ensure the safe removal of the chimney breast. They will inspect and make recommendations about what type of supports are needed. This professional will also submit their designs to the local building control office for approval.
Upon completion, a Building Control Officer will insect the work and issue a completion certificate that you will need to keep with all of your important papers of deeds and Land Registry documents for the home as you will need them if you decide to sell your home at some later date.
Rules and regulations to follow when you remove ground floor chimney breast
Planning Permissions may be necessary
You probably will not need any special permissions for inside work that you do on your home. This is true, unless of course, you live in a Conservation Area. Never make the assumption, however, that no approval is necessary. It is always best to ask first before any work is started so you are not left with any unwanted and unpleasant consequences later on down the road. Be sure you have the required permission before you start any work on your home.
Building regulations must be followed
Regardless of whether or not any special permissions need to be granted, you will always need to comply with building regulations and rules. You may feel like this step is not necessary but will be glad you followed the rules if you ever decide to sell your property at some later date.
These building rules and regulations are set in place to ensure the structural strength of the building, fire safety, sound insulation, maintenance of any neighbour’s chimney, damp prevention, and ventilation to rooms.
They are designed for the safety of the people who dwell inside the building. When these people are your family and those you love, you will realise the importance of such guidelines and will not hesitate to follow the rules from the start to comply with any building regulations in your area.
Party wall and landlord implications
If your property shares a wall with a neighbour, you will need to comply with the Party Wall Act of 1996. This basically means you will notify your neighbour and possibly obtain written consent before starting work on the chimney breast removal that may impact their living space as well. Also, if you are leasing the property, you will need to obtain permission from the landlord.
Chimneys are intended to safely allow fumes to vent from the house. So, take extra safety precautions when working with chimney breast removal. The safety of any gas appliance that uses a party wall flue should be considered. Consult a Gas Safe Engineer to get something in writing. Also, if the chimney stack is part of the removal below the roof line, roofing timbers will need to be extended to fill in the gap left behind and properly covered to ensure there is no leaking from rain or damp issues that later arise.
As always, take care to wear safety gear and clothing. Chimney breast removal is a messy job, kicking up soot and debris as well as potentially hazardous bricks falling. So, always wear proper safety gear and construction work clothing.
Leaving part of the chimney in place
Whenever part of the chimney is left in place, everything above must be properly supported. Preferably, this will involve a Rolled Steel Joist RSJ or other suitable supports. What supports required will be determined by the size of the above masonry and the adjoining walls that may bear the load. Any unused part of the chimney that is retained will need to be properly ventilated at both the top and the bottom. If moisture remains, the soot will interact to cause staining issues.