How to Do Partial Chimney Removal in 5 Simple Ways.
The simplest way to get done with that partial chimney removal.
Learn how to do partial chimney removal with the expert team of Diligent Developments.
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Simple Partial Chimney Removal Steps
Removing a chimney can be done either by entirely removing the full chimney, or by leaving the stack or chimney breast in place. It’s your home, and there are plenty of options for how you want to use your living space. If you are wanting to know how to do partial chimney removal, we have the answers to your questions. Learn how to do a simple partial chimney removal the easy way with these five helpful tips.
Five simple reasons to remove only part of the chimney
While removing the entire chimney is typically the preferred option, sometimes a home owner wants to leave just the chimney stack, just the chimney breast, or both in place. Often the choice to leave the stack in place is due to the fact that they do not want to repair the hole left in the roof when you remove it.
The reason some leave only the chimney breast in place is similar, but also some want the look of a fireplace without the trouble of tending to fires. It’s left as more of a facade or centerpiece to the home. Another option is to leave both the chimney stack and the chimney breast in place and remove everything in between.
This latter option takes care of not needing to clean up and fill in either the hole left in the roof or the mess left on the inside floor but does render the chimney unusable. Another reason to do a partial removal is when the home owner wants to keep a chimney breast to use on one floor storey but not on the others.
A chimney is more than meets the eye
A full chimney system is an architectural ventilation structure made of masonry, metal, and clay. It was built with the intention of isolating toxic fumes and smoke from the main living area. An entire chimney is made up of a foundation, facing, damper casing, mantle, damper, clean out door, ash pit and cover, firebox, lintel, throat, smoke chamber, flue, flue tile liners, masonry as well as the stack that protrudes from the roof line with its flashing, crown and gap. There is also the brickwork that surrounds the chimney and protrudes into the living space area, called the chimney breast.
The two main parts of a chimney that are typically removed include the chimney breast and the chimney stack. The stack is the part that extends above the roof line, and the chimney breast is the part of the chimney that you see inside. The rest of the ventilation system is usually tucked away behind the wall boards as it rises up to finally vent out through the stack. All chimney removal projects are also going to involve either the removal of or the shoring up of the chimney stack. All of this adds up to leaving either a hole in the roof to repair, a hole in the inside floor and walls to repair, or both making some home owners decide to only partially remove the chimney.
Important considerations when partially removing a chimney
The main concern is to make sure the walls, chimney stack and home’s structure are left strong and intact after anything is removed. Whenever you are doing any work on your home, you will of course need to abide by any Party Wall Act or building regulations required in your area. It is especially important with a partial chimney removal that you make sure whatever renovation you do that your home is left structurally sound and well supported. If any portion of the chimney will be continued for use, it will also need to be properly ventilated.
Always consult a structural engineer for a partial chimney removal
Removing a chimney is not necessarily considered to be work that needs to be done by a chimney removal expert. However, when you are removing only a portion of the chimney and leaving part of it in place, it is very important that you consult with a structural engineer as well as someone versed in understanding proper ventilation if you want to continue using a portion of the chimney.
Be absolutely certain that any brickwork or venting systems you are removing is not going to compromise the structural strength and support of your home and that toxic fumes will not back up into your living space. Regardless of whether you tackle it yourself or have the entire chimney removal work done by an expert, you will need to make sure you have the proper permissions in place before demolition and reconstruction begin. If you are unsure of any of the steps, it’s best to consult with someone who knows.
Leaving the chimney stack in place
Proper support to make sure the stack is sturdy is the most important thing
Why would you leave the stack in place while removing the rest of the chimney? Some like the architectural look of keeping the chimney stack protruding to the exterior of the home at the roof line, while others simply don’t want to mess with repairing the hole and needing to provide roofing materials when it is removed. If you are removing most of the chimney but leaving the stack in place, you will need to make sure it is properly supported. Otherwise, it could come crashing in through the roof leaving a large hole and a huge mess to clean up and repair. This would be most counterproductive seeing as how the main reason home owners choose to keep the chimney stack in place is to avoid patching up a hole in the roof.
How you secure the chimney stack will depend largely on the size of the masonry and the adjoining walls that will be left bearing the load. This is where a good structural engineer will be most useful and will know exactly the best method to use. Typically, the most secure way to shore up the stack is to use RSJ steel beams.
Will Gallows brackets suffice?
Before the interior chimney can be removed safely, you will need to make sure the chimney stack is well supported. Gallows brackets should never be recommended in structures that are more than two storeys high, the stack is completely vertical, or if the chimney is more than 1200mm and projects more than 340mm into the room. If any of these conditions are present, steel beams would be the best method to make sure the stack is secured well. If there is a neighbouring chimney that shares a wall or part of the attic with your living space, make sure the wall is still solidly intact and that the shared wall is a minimum of 215 mm thick in good.
Rolled Steel Joists RSJ beams are a sturdy selection
The most trusting method and most durable with the strongest support, use steel beams. These I-beams offer the most reliable strength since they can span narrow or wide gaps with one solid support beam. It may cost a bit more to begin with, but the steel beam will leave you with a peace of mind and no weak connection points that could potentially give way.
Leaving the chimney breast in place
You may choose to retain the chimney breast for many reasons. One such reason is that you don’t want to re-plaster or re-floor, or otherwise deal with patching and redecorating the gaps left behind in the walls and floor when you remove it. Others want to keep the original architecture in place.
If you are keeping any portion of the chimney to be continued for use of fires, you will need to be sure it is properly ventilated at both the top and the bottom. Any moisture left inside an improperly ventilated wall or chimney will interact with soot remaining in the used chimney and could cause staining.
One of the reasons home owners choose to leave a non-working chimney breast in place is to avoid patching up and redecorating after. However, some choose to remove part of the chimney breast leaving architectural elements in place such as an archway or brickwork that flows with the interior design. Some of this may involve a bit of patch work on the walls or floor, but leaving some of the chimney breast in place will limit the extent of excess clean up work.
Leaving part of the chimney in use
Retaining part of the chimney for use
Sometimes, the home owner wants to remove a chimney breast at one storey of the house but keep a working chimney on another storey. The most important considerations for this type of renovation will be making sure the upper storeys are properly supported while ensuring proper ventilation at the storey left for use. Also keep in mind that whatever storey you remove the chimney breast from will then require patch work, possibly new dry wall, plaster, painting, and new flooring before you will be able to use the new added space.
Proper ventilation should always be considered
If any portion of the chimney is to be left for use, you must make sure it is properly ventilated. If your chimney used gas, consult with an expert to make sure everything is turned off before work begins. If there is any electricity running through the wall where the chimney rests, you will also need to make sure the electricity is turned off at the main breaker so as not to accidentally cut into a live wire. If any gas lines or electric wires need to be rerouted for use after the chimney section has been taken out, make sure you consult an expert.
Safety should always come first
Additional safety concerns
Never be afraid to consult with an expert to make sure your partial chimney removal project is done right. It could affect the structural strength of your entire home. If any part of the chimney is going to be retained for use, you will also need to make sure that safety measures are taken and that the structure is well supported. Additional concerns include making sure the building regulations comply with fire safety, sound insulation, ventilation, and damp prevention to avoid damage from mold or soot staining.