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I'm in the middle of renovating a balloon-framed house from the 1890's. The house is currently gutted. It originally had a standing-seam metal roof that was penetrated by a central chimney. At some point a membrane roof was installed over the old metal roof.

The chimney has not been used for a long time, and the (four) fireplaces have been cemented over, except for a stovepipe hole in each one. The chimney was last used to vent combustion gases from kerosene heaters, so I imagine it's pretty dirty inside.

Since the fireplaces are not useable, and the chimney has always been a source of moisture problems in the house, and I'm about to install a whole new roof, I was thinking it would be a good idea to knock the chimney down below the roofline, and simply roof over it.

Once I got the chimney below the roofline, I would seal up the top of the chimney with masonry tiles, and I would seal up the fireplaces with cement.

Is this the proper way to do such a thing?

  • Seems reasonable. – Tyler Durden Jul 21 '15 at 15:57
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    Why not take out the chimney for the full height of your house? Sure it's a bit more effort than just sealing it, but a) the house is already gutted, so there wouldn't be much "making good" to do; and b) you'll give yourself extra floor area and remove annoying lumps in the middle of your walls. – AndyT Jul 21 '15 at 16:21
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    Some people find annoying lumps and old fireplace mantles to be quite charming. – Mattzees Jul 21 '15 at 17:54
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You can easily do this. Take out the bricks to just below roof rafters.

DON'T take out the whole chimney because old homes often use chimney for structural support!

I did the same thing on my 1900 house - took brick out so they were 5-10" below rafters, and framed over the hole. If you worry about snow load, you can reinforce the rafters that are near the chimney.

If you want to fre up some space in the attic, you can take the rest of the bricks out just so they are a few inches below attic floor. But once again, the attic josts are most likely tied into chimney so if you go too far down, the floors will sink.

Good luck!

  • Unless the framing changes in some way, rafters or joist that are the same size as their neighboring members will not be affected by the chimney in detriment even if they are attached to it. Now a ledger or beam attached to the chimney, that is a different story. – Damon Jul 22 '15 at 5:32
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For what it''s worth, I did exactly this as part of the process of replacing my shingles (which were nearing end-of-life). That had the advantage of letting the roofers completely open the patient, remove the top courses until it was safely below roof level, install a nice strong patch over the hole (in fact they were putting plywood over the old king-pine boards anyway, so this was almost automatic), then shingle right across where the chimney had been.

At some point I'll take a hammer to what's left and recover the space the chimney occupies. I know the ground-floor main beam no longer rests on the chimney (that had crumbled and later been fixed with columns); we'll have to see whether it supports anything higher up. Hope not...

(This wasn't a gut rehab, so there really wasn't much advantage to removing the whole thing in one swell foop.)

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