I've decided to remove an old fireplace mantel in the hopes of installing a gas fireplace. After removing the mantel, I uncovered a brick fireplace. Do I need to remove more of the fireplace bricks- including the chimney (it is a large chimney on the exterior) or can I leave the brick as per the photo and have the gas fireplace installed in the opening? The chimney is no longer useable without major repairs. How do I know if the fireplace area is structurally sound and will not collapse?
any help and thoughts are appreciated!