I have a 1950's cape cod, which I moved into earlier this year.

The home was not advertised as having a fireplace and I certainly do not see any indication that there was or could've ever been one here.

Having said that, there's a chimney on one side of the house. My dad said that if there's a chimney that can only be because there was a fireplace, so it must've just been built over.

The indoor parts of the house that the chimney aligns with are just

  • my small dining room
  • the attic (now converted into extra bedrooms)
  • the unfinished part of my basement, behind the washer and dryer, along the ugly brick walls

I don't see any possible way there could've ever been a fireplace in any of these places. I also have no idea what the point of a fake chimney would be. I'd love to have a fireplace and I'm just curious, so if you can shed any light I would appreciate it.

  • 1
    Are there any gas\oil fixtures (water heater, furnace, boiler, etc.) venting into it? About 75% of the houses around here have chimneys, and I'd ballpark less than 1% have fireplaces.
    – Comintern
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 0:32
  • @Comintern I have a water heater and natural gas. I think it originally had oil heating. I think you're probably right. Nothing is venting into it now, but that's probably the type of hole that could've been hidden.
    – Hack-R
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 0:34
  • A lot of the chimneys around here are "dormant" as more and more furnaces get replaced with sealed combustion furnaces and the old venting gets sealed up. They're horribly difficult to remove, so they just go unused.
    – Comintern
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 0:38
  • Old basement used to have furnaces (coal and oil), and incinerators. Could be your old brick wall hides secrets. Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 0:54
  • Where is the water heater (and furnace?) venting to now?
    – wallyk
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 3:42

1 Answer 1


Your dad is wrong. Chimneys have been used for non-fireplace heating systems since the days of the Franklin Stove.

Also, remember that the interior of the house may have been drastically rearranged over the years. My kitchen definitely isn't where it was when the place was built, and in fact the old kitchen space is now my dining room.

The only way to be sure what's going on is to get a look at the chimney itself, and see what kinds of openings may have existed and then been bricked up, or to research your house's history.

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