Chimney removal is often advised, but many homeowners put it off, not considering the benefits of full chimney removal. Many homes have been built with fireplaces for heating, and they also have chimneys. As time has provided the innovation of other, more efficient heating methods, fireplaces and chimneys may not be used so often. Here we look at 5 reasons that you should consider having your chimney removed.
The reasons for removing an old chimney and fireplace removal may vary. Maybe the chimney is damaged, or you just do not use it often enough? A chimney and fireplace add character and warmth to a home, but there is more to these architectural features than cozy aesthetics.
Here are some reasons that some people choose existing chimney and fireplace removal:
LACK OF UTILITY
These fireplaces are often relics of a different time when fires were the only source of heat in a home. Modern families are increasingly less likely to use a fire. Fireplaces are often nothing more than an ornamental feature in a room, and the chimney is just a place for heat and cold to pass through.
FIREPLACE REMOVAL FREES UP VALUABLE SPACE
Maybe your home lacks storage, has cramped living space, or you just want more free room. Removing a fireplace can give you the space you want. You can often remove a fireplace inside the building, leaving the chimney stack intact above roof level. This can free up valuable floor space inside.
KEEPING IT MAY BE AS COSTLY AS CHIMNEY AND FIREPLACE REMOVAL
Removing an old chimney and fireplace is one way to avoid costs. Cost like repairing your current chimney, upkeep and future maintenance, and also save you on utilities by increasing your effective insulation.
Weigh up the cost of repairing and retaining a fireplace/chimney in working order. The cost of installing, repairing or maintaining new hearths, chimney linings or flues may well equal to or even more than the cost of removing an old one.
Older chimneys, especially brick ones, can pose an earthquake danger. For a family that doesn’t gain much joy from their fireplace, the risk of a falling chimney is not worth taking. To fulling understand the likelihood of your chimney falling in an earthquake, schedule a safety inspection with professionals like The Irish Sweep.
If you’re considering removing your fireplace or chimney, you have options. You can install a gas fireplace, have no fireplace, or build a new one, depending on the architecture involved. If you have any questions or concerns, call The Irish Sweep today.
Normally, it’s not the shaking ground itself that claims lives during an earthquake. It’s the associated destruction of man-made structures and the other natural disasters earthquakes cause such as tsunamis, avalanches and landslides. In a city, your biggest earthquake threat is often the safety of your own home.
One structural engineer told the SF Gate: “Masonry chimneys are perhaps the most urgent earthquake hazard in older homes. The problem is that they’re likely to fall in even a modest shake. A rule of thumb is that brick chimneys extending more than 1 1/2 times their least width above the roof pose a hazard of collapsing above the roof, not to mention any possible hazard they may pose below the roof level. That’s less than 2 feet for a typical 14-inch-wide chimney.”
Be sure your chimney is safe, or have it removed. Simple as that.
After an earthquake, damage to your gas lines can mean a gas leak on your property. Which you won’t detect, because you’ll have evacuated! Best case scenario, your home stinks and you have to air it out. Worst case scenario, it goes up in a fireball. To avoid the whole problem, consider having an earthquake gas shut off valve installed, if you don’t already have one.
EARTHQUAKES AREN’T JUST FOR HUMANS
Most of us know to have a first aid kit, supplies, and an emergency plan for the humans in the house. Do you have an appropriate first aid kit for your parrot, ferret, or dog? What about emergency food set aside? Do you have a “save our pets” decal in your window, just in case? Be sure to include pets in your emergency planning.
FEMA HAS A PREPAREDNESS CHECKLIST
Many families try to make their own checklist or plan for earthquake preparedness. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s extremely unlikely you’ll come up with a more thorough and useful document than this: FEMA Earthquake Preparedness Checklist (download link). Compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, this is more than a list. It includes diagrams that teach helpful skills, and much more.
DROP, COVER, AND HOLD
The old wisdom was that doorways were the safest place to be indoors during an earthquake. That is no longer true in most buildings, especially buildings in earthquake prone areas, or new construction. Now Your safest place to be is near the ground, under something solid. The new mantra is drop, cover, hold. Drop to the ground, gain cover by going under a table or other furniture, and hold onto your protective cover with one hand, protect your neck with the other.
When a home has a chimney, and something is awry with it, many homeowners only consider 2 options: fixing it or leaving it in place but declaring the fireplace unusable.
But there are two unexamined options: removing the chimney completely and replacing it with a safer style of chimney.
WHY REPLACE YOUR CHIMNEY?
No amount of repair will make a masonry chimney as safe as a metal one. Masonry chimneys are more likely to fall down and hurt or kill someone during an earthquake than any other part of the house. A full replacement means leaving that risk behind, and still enjoying your fireplace as you always have. It’s all gain, no loss.
WHY REMOVE YOUR CHIMNEY?
Chimney removal is another great option. Why do I call it “great”? Because no chimney means no risk of chimney fires, no risk of a falling chimney, no more place for rain to enter your home, or your hot air to escape in winter.
When having a chimney removed you can opt to remove it below the roof line (if it’s not along on exterior wall), and keep your mantel and firebox area indoors (decorative only). Or you can remove the entire fireplace system. This can create new space in your home, too. The chimney removal cost is often less than repair, and unlike repairs, you’re not going to have to do it again in a few years. No more chimney maintenance for you!
Sometimes a chimney is utilized to vent gas appliances that are connected to the metal flue liner. If your chimney is being used to vent gas appliances such as a furnace, water heater, or boiler, a vent will still need to penetrate the roof to carry the exhaust gases to the exterior after your chimney is gone. This doesn’t mean you can’t remove your chimney. Your chimney removal specialist can help you navigate this safely.