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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Default How to demolish a brick chimney

    We have a 1920's hunting/fishing cabin and the brick chimney was made with a sandy mortar which is failing now. The chimney buckles in the middle with the upper half slightly leaning over the cabin roof. I've been told it has to go for safety's sake from one chimney expert and another said he could save it. I'm inclined to agree with the first guy because he explained that the mortar will just keep on breaking down over the years to come and there's no proper footing for the weight of it. Can we demolish this safely ourselves and how - 1 story about 15-20 ft tall probably. Also I'd love to save the huge fossilized stone mantel and surround inside, but can we buy a gas direct vent fireplace and just slip it in the existing hole? Thanks for any advice - my adult sons and husband have moderate skill levels.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
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    5,803

    Default Re: How to demolish a brick chimney

    Those type of chimneys are easy to tear down and require no more than a hammer and masonry chisel. You start at the top and tap the chisel into the mortar between the bricks to release the bricks. You will need a cleared area and container to through the bricks as they are removed. If the fire box is in good shape you would only need to remove the chimney down to the fire box. Once removed the top of the fire box would need to be sealed (fireproof) and a gas log set can be installed to the fire box. You can install a direct vent unit or a vent-less set. If the fire box is unsafe you will need to rebuild it. If you install a vent-less set, while generally safe, it is recommended the a CO monitor be installed in the cabin.

    I tore down one of the chimneys in my home in 2 days working by myself, but I did use a compressor and air chisel.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Fayette County, Ohio
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    Default Re: How to demolish a brick chimney

    I should have mentioned that it is a messy dirty job and that you will want to seal the fireplace opening while doing the work.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    5

    Default Re: How to demolish a brick chimney

    Thanks so much. The chimney guys scared me because they led me to believe that the top part of the chimney above the buckle that leans over the cabin could fall easily and hurt someone. One of the guys told me his dad who was a brick mason died on a job site. Is it really that dangerous and do you have any ideas for some kind of support for the side over the chimney to keep that from happening? I thought about a thick piece of plywood butted up against the chimney with some kind of chain or strapping and hook it to my son's truck and keep it pulled closely to the brick but without any real pressure so if they started to fall at least they would go into the yard and not on my kids' heads! Is that a dumb idea? We did a LOT of demo work already with that truck and a chain! We've got two compressors but I'll need to get an air chisel - how much are they and can we just rent one for a day? I appreciate your advice and time and the tip about the plastic covering to contain the dust.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,803

    Default Re: How to demolish a brick chimney

    Lowes $19.97. It's a lot easier on you than swinging a hammer.

    Without pictures and an idea of the room you have to work in, it is difficult to give more than generic instruction. I generally don't consider pulling a chimney down because in the process it can buckle in the middle and fall into the house.I always work from the top and remove one brick at a time.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    7,078

    Default Re: How to demolish a brick chimney

    Quote Originally Posted by cabin renovator View Post
    Thanks so much. The chimney guys scared me because they led me to believe that the top part of the chimney above the buckle that leans over the cabin could fall easily and hurt someone. One of the guys told me his dad who was a brick mason died on a job site. Is it really that dangerous and do you have any ideas for some kind of support for the side over the chimney to keep that from happening?.
    Being up on a roof is nothing to trifle with, however it is more likely that the chimney guy was trying to scare you into hiring him. The two things that make this dangerous are the slope of the roof and all that mortar that you're going to be chiseling out and under your feet, making for a very slippery surface. IMHO, if your roof slope is 4/12 or less, this is nothing to be scared of, and as long as you don't let the mortar tailings get under your feet you should be fine.

    I wouldn't bother tying the chimney off to your truck, but I would recommend tying your self off so that in the event you do slip, you don't slide off the roof. As Jack said, working carefully, taking out one brick at a time, there should be no issues of the chimney just falling over. BTW, when you work one brick at a time, don't take more than a couple courses out at one time per side, work your way around the chimney as you take it down.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

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