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Removing indoor brick chimney (three stories tall)

Removing indoor brick chimney (three stories tall)

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  #1  
Old 01-23-12, 09:13 AM
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Removing indoor brick chimney (three stories tall)

I had no idea where to put this thread.

I recently purchased an old 3 story house which has a no longer used chimny hidden in the middle. The chimney is visable in the basement and attic only, with the top removed so it's not sticking out the roof. It is hidden behind plaster walls on the first and second floor.
Somewhere done the line, I would like to remove it. This is not a near future job, but I thought I would start looking into it now. The reasoning for wanting to remove it is because I am loosing a lot of heat from the basement and boiler (which is right beside the brick chimney) and ultimately, the wife would like a laundry shoot instead of hauling cloths down to the basement from the second floor where most of the bedrooms are located. The laundry shoot would not go to the third floor/attic bedroom.

I know this is going to be a time consuming, painful job, so I figured I would start asking questions before I start this project. Any suggestions, tips, recommendations or things to look for/at with removing an interior chimney?
 
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Old 01-23-12, 10:51 AM
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It's going to be pretty much what you expect, backbreaking and very dirty. The demolition itself is not the problem. It's what to do with the tons of bricks & mortar. Busting up the chimney will go relatively quickly and in a few minutes you will be log jammed with bricks so several helpers to remove debris would really help.

If possible work from the top and toss the bricks down the flue. Have someone in the basement removing them and put them into buckets and another person or two to carry the buckets up and out of the basement to be emptied. Do not get ahead of the bricks being removed at the bottom as they will tend to lock together forming a plug and you might have to resort to taking the bricks out from the top.
 
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Old 01-23-12, 10:58 AM
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Pilot Dane;
That was pretty much the plan. Start from the top (in the attic) and work my way down. Tossing the bricks and what not down the center is a smart idea (better then running flights of stairs with pails).
I think the hard part will be to open up the finished walls on the second and first floor to access the bricks.
As for the brick runners.... I suspect it'll be myself, so this will be a bit more then a weekend job.

Should I have any concern of asbestos?
I suspect this to be from the original construction and not a later retrofit.
 
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Old 01-23-12, 11:36 AM
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I would not plan on opening the walls unless you want to. I'd start at the top and work down creating a hollow shaft in the core of the house. If you have fireplaces visible on the first and second floors those will open up as access points as you go down. Otherwise you will have a hollow shaft in the center without damaging the finished walls. Just make sure you have a plan as to getting out. But this idea really relies on having helpers so the one person in the hole can keep working and get a lot done while in there and dirty.

Asbestos should not be a concern but anything is possible. You will kick up an awful lot of dust and soot so I would wear a high quality cartridge respirator at the minimum and possibly a full face version to keep your eyes clear.

I also like to attach my tools to my belt with light cord. The cord can get in the way but nothing wastes time like dropping your mallet, hammer or chisel down the flue, or worse loosing it in the space between the chimney and wall.

If you have to do this all yourself you may consider knocking holes in the finished walls because you will be in and out sooooo often. I guess you'll spend 10+ times as much time doing things other than actually busting the chimney. This project will certainly test your patience.
 
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Old 01-23-12, 12:24 PM
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There are no access points currently except in the attic and basement.
I honestly do not know if there ever was any fireplaces on the other floors. The Chimney is complete hidden now on the first and second floor by plaster (and suprisingly it fits the design of the rooms, so you don't notice it's there unless you really go looking for it).
The encasement around the chimney looks to be ~3'x3' so for safety reasons, I am thinking it can't be a one man show.

Thank you for the info. This will be a tough project, but should help reduce my heating bill and will be really nice to have the wife's requested shoot.
 
  #6  
Old 01-25-12, 04:14 PM
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I think the wife wants a chute, not a shoot (unless she's a naturally violent woman).

Before I'd spend hours and miles lugging a thousand bricks out of a basement, I'd open up the framing around the chimney on all floors, starting at the top. You're going to eventually do that anyway, right? Then, using a brickset and 3-lb., short-handled maul, break the bricks out, working down from where you left off earlier. Find an open window on each floor, and give them all a good (one-by-one) heave out into the yard, into an open area you've flagged off using caution tape (with a few warning signs, too) to keep neighbors from getting boinked. You can retrieve the scattered bricks with a wheelbarrow at your leisure. I've removed several chimneys from 2-story houses this way, and I think it was a lot easier than lugging them all out of the basement would have been. Only small drawback was filling in the dents in the lawn with some topsoil and seed when finished.
 
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Old 01-26-12, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by BridgeMan45

I think the wife wants a chute, not a shoot (unless she's a naturally violent woman).

Before I'd spend hours and miles lugging a thousand bricks out of a basement, I'd open up the framing around the chimney on all floors, starting at the top. You're going to eventually do that anyway, right? Then, using a brickset and 3-lb., short-handled maul, break the bricks out, working down from where you left off earlier. Find an open window on each floor, and give them all a good (one-by-one) heave out into the yard, into an open area you've flagged off using caution tape (with a few warning signs, too) to keep neighbors from getting boinked. You can retrieve the scattered bricks with a wheelbarrow at your leisure. I've removed several chimneys from 2-story houses this way, and I think it was a lot easier than lugging them all out of the basement would have been. Only small drawback was filling in the dents in the lawn with some topsoil and seed when finished.

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I guess the cloths could pick up some speed falling from the third floor to the basement. Wouldn't want to be at the bottom if/when my 2yrs old chucks a toy down there.

When I originally started thinking about this project, what you describe is pretty much along the lines of what I was thinking. The third/floor attic will be easy as the chimney is exposed. First shouldn't be too bad to open the wall and go for it.
The second floor however.... will be a pain. The chimney, although hidden by paster walls, is incorporated into the archutecure of that floor big time. ~ half of it is incorporate into the bathroom, between the vanity and the bath tub, and the other half is partly between the master bedroom and stairway to the third floor. Who ever did the layout of the second floor was briliant as you can't tell the chimney is even there.

When it comes to removal, I may actually go with both suggestions. I'm a little hesitant to tear apart my secondfloor bathroom/stairway/master bedroom for the end result of a laundry shoot. The first floor is not much of an issue as it will be a simple wall repair for me to do.
 
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Old 01-26-12, 08:44 AM
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If you do go with a chute you may want to construct a barricade of some type around the landing zone. First for liability. Even taped off & with signs if a child wanders into the area a brick on the head would kill them. Secondly, once a few bricks have landed following bricks sometimes bounce or take pretty strong rolls, ending up surprisingly far from the landing zone. I learned that lesson with a broken sliding door that was about 30 feet from the area. One brick took a lucky bounce & roll and in addition to the chimney work I had to fix the sliding door.

You can see why chimneys are usually only removed to be below the roof. It's much easier out in the open when you can just chunk the bricks off the roof. You get down into the core of the house and it becomes a real chore.

Have you considered having someone just blow insulation into the cavity between the chimney and walls?
 
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Old 01-26-12, 03:11 PM
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Depending on the inside dimensions of the chimney, would it be possible to construct a metal ductwork and install in the chimney for the laundry chute? Then after the laundry chute is finished and sealed it have insulation blown into the chimney and surrounding area. That would eliminate removing a lot of bricks and solve the heat loss problem.
 
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Old 02-10-12, 01:33 PM
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I have been thinking about this exact project myself. One thing to check on is if the chimney is supporting any load. In the basement my chimney starts to widening a little bit right before it gets to the bottom of my floor joists and it actually caring some of the weight. One side of the chimney is a load bearing wall on the first and second floor. This is one of the reasons I've held off on doing, I need to get a structural engineer to have a look.
 
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Old 02-15-12, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by badeyeben
Depending on the inside dimensions of the chimney, would it be possible to construct a metal ductwork and install in the chimney for the laundry chute? Then after the laundry chute is finished and sealed it have insulation blown into the chimney and surrounding area. That would eliminate removing a lot of bricks and solve the heat loss problem.
I think it would be too small to begin with and getting some sort of lining into the chimny might be very difficult without opening the roof and sliding it in from the very top (not a great idea).

Originally Posted by teeman11
I have been thinking about this exact project myself. One thing to check on is if the chimney is supporting any load. In the basement my chimney starts to widening a little bit right before it gets to the bottom of my floor joists and it actually caring some of the weight. One side of the chimney is a load bearing wall on the first and second floor. This is one of the reasons I've held off on doing, I need to get a structural engineer to have a look.
My chimny is not load bearing. The walls on the first and second floor are actually built around it.
If I had to guess, the area around the chimny had been renovated and remodeled around it sometime in the past. I believe the chimny would have had a wood burning stove in the basement, first and second floor (must have been some cold in that house back then). The house was originally built as a nun convent, and has over the last 75 years, been renovated and changed with the times. It is now an 8 bedroom (3 bath) house where back when it was built, I don't think it had three bathrooms, and can see clearly that it had many more smaller bedrooms.
 
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Old 06-18-12, 12:10 PM
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I happen to be working around the chimny base this weekend and cracked open the door at the base. It appears who ever took the top off simply tossed the waste down the chimny.
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Luckly this project will be down the road a bit as there is a fair bit of pipe work for the boiler in front of the trap door. That pipework will be relocated in the near future, so I'll have room to remove the junk from the trap door.
 
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Old 06-18-12, 03:39 PM
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I would just like to add, I removed my chimney in that way, but had to lug out from the attic, closet, and crawl space. It was a PITA I can tell you.

Now from what I inquired from when I remember doing this, is some fire code issue. I am not sure the rule but I had to close up all floors properly.

Not sure the laundry chute is a good idea and not sure code in the states. Canada may be different. ( Just thinking fire codes)

Just a thought.

Mike NJ
 
 

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