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I know that removing an old unused chimney from a house is done from the top down.

I'm just wondering if it's even thinkable to remove a mid-section from the chimney, while reinforcing under the first removed layer of bricks taken out (would be at the ceiling of the "top floor" on the diagram) (as it's being taken down) to support the top part of the chimney, around 10 feet of it.

The chimney is not structurally tied to the house.

Is this something that's ever done or am I crazy?

chimney diagram

  • What's the purpose? Are you simply trying to avoid patching the roof? – Tester101 Aug 7 '15 at 0:16
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    So you like playing Jenga? It sound to me like you are taking a big risk of something going wrong. Even if you do "Reinforce" at the point of the chimney you want to remove, you are not talking about a solid object. – WarLoki Aug 7 '15 at 0:26
  • "Those nice young men in their clean white coats are coming to take you away ha ha hee hee ho to the Funny Farm, where life is beautiful all the time..." – Ecnerwal Aug 7 '15 at 2:02
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    Unfortunately, gravity. – DA01 Aug 7 '15 at 3:41
  • Sure, (like anything) this can be done. However I guarantee you have neither the tools nor the talent. This house is 'historical', eh? ;p – Mazura Aug 8 '15 at 3:23
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It is 'thinkable' in my opinion, BUT!...

There are (among others, already pointed out) reasons to not to do so. Let me bullet this:

  • brick weights a lot - try to compute it (well, I know that You cannotcompute ;) but at least, try to do so), so it needs a good, solid support - that makes another issues:
    1. computing the support (civil engineer involved, codes and permissions involved)
    2. placing the support (on some walls? if walls structure is wood frame - forget about it, if masonry, it needs to lay these forces to walls (if nearby)(again - involves - see point 1.)
  • it costs a lot - doing something like that is not DIY job, there are some ways to place support, but these are most often done in old, monumental buildings, and that raise costs a lot
  • the stiffness is not guaranteed - the way brickwork works (well, that sounds funny!) is different than other structures do, especially if freshly-installed; not recommended
  • no guarantee to not to harm anyone and anything - this is the outcome of all of these above

If I were You, I wouldn't bother. Comment by Aloysius Defenestrate makes some sense, but I would hesistate to do so in case of strong winds.

  • You're almost definitely looking at trying to suspend around 4,000 pounds (two tons). Are you really, really clear on what that would require in terms of support? – Craig Aug 8 '15 at 6:48
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Have you the faintest clue what 10 feet of chimney weighs? "reinforce here" to WHAT exactly, that's going to hold up 10 feet of bricks?

This is a bad, terrible unthinkable idea. Take it down from the top, or hire somone else to take it down from the top, or far enough from the top that you feel comfortable working on it.

Don't kill yourself, or someone else in your house, or do massive expensive damage to your house even if you somehow manage not to kill anyone.

Houses of a certain vintage sometimes have "stub chimneys" that start in the attic, with stovepipes below, but they were structurally supported from below before they were built.

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    +1 for "unthinkable". Make a fake chimney out of wood and paint if you need something that looks like a chimney. – Aloysius Defenestrate Aug 7 '15 at 2:21
  • You also have to consider whether or not the chimney is part of the structure of the home. May older homes actually are supported by them, and would need to be completely revamped in order to have them safely removed. Also consider the fact that 10' of chimney weighs more than the family car. – Jason Hutchinson Aug 7 '15 at 19:25
  • Regarding the family car analogy, a little rough math tells me there are probably close to 200 bricks per 4 ft side in a 10 foot column, which works out around 1,000 pounds. Multiply that by 4 sides plus the weight of the mortar and it's safe to say you have 4,000 pounds in that section of chimney you're thinking about suspending in air. And that's assuming the walls of the chimney are only one brick deep. – Craig Aug 8 '15 at 6:46
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The best support for that 10 foot tall, 2 ton (4,000 pound) column of bricks would be a column of bricks underneath it all the way down to the foundation.

Wait, you already have one of those... ;-)

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The safest way would be to remove the whole upper part and repair the attic and roof. You might be able to support the 10' with a thick steel plate tied into the roof frame attached to the main support beams of the house. The problem is keeping it in place while you remove the bottom structure and get the new support in place with out it collapsing. good luck

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Safety is a concern but truthfully, I did it! 3- 2X6’s on the floor of the 2nd level. Took out everything below with a sledge. NEVER AGAIN! These guys are correct. Brick is very heavy, dirty and an ass ache. Some things are best paid for. After a year or so, I wet back to the roof and took it down, brick by brick, pass the roofline. Sealed the roof and another 8-10 months took the rest down and out. I saved a boat load of money but would pay to have it done. Up and down the ladder/stairs with a few bricks for weeks just wasn’t worth the saving. Let it be known.....it was removed for a kitchen remodel.

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