I just joined this forum so I could pose this question of the community. I've been looking everywhere and so far haven't found any good info, so here goes hoping you guys can help.
I own a circa 1900 wood frame home in Church Hill, an Old & Historic District located in Richmond, Virginia. A lot of renovation work has been done to houses in the neighborhood over the last decade or two, but I've noticed that most people skip over the fireplaces. Ours are completely sealed off, and I've noticed that a ton of other houses have the same situation (whether "flipped" or owner renovated). How do we reopen the fireplaces?
We have four fireplaces that are complete with mantles in great condition and the iron fireplace surrounds. It looks like concrete was used to seal them up. We've already repaired the chimneys above the roof line (original horse hair mortar had deteriorated) and know we'll need to get them relined for use. However, first off I'd like to just get them open and looking better.
Does anyone have experience doing this kind of work? What tools should I use and how should I go about it? Can I just swing a sledgehammer to start breaking it up? I imagine it will get pretty dirty with the soot, so I am anticipating that much but otherwise have no idea how difficult the work will actually be. Any and all help is greatly appreciated.
I have photos but can't post them since I'm a new member. Feel free to shoot questions to me and I'll post a photo as soon as I'm able. Thanks!