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The Attic Renovation: Removing the Chimney

After completely gutting the attic, I realized that this was going to be a huge project. But it was within my abilities as a do-it-yourselfer. We were also toying with the idea of building a new front dormer to allow more light into the larger bedroom which was way beyond my abilities. So when we hired a contractor to fix another problem, I asked him for a ball-park estimate to finish the second floor.

He quoted us a reasonable price that included finishing the second floor AND the dormer. I figured he could do the work a lot faster than I could plus I would get my weekends back. On the first day that he worked he strapped out the rafters with 2×2′s to allow for more insulation, plus he insulated one side attic, and built a new knee wall.

The contractor recommended that we consider removing the chimney, which was no longer in use, to help open up some floor space and allow a few more options as far as placement of the bedroom closet. 

The chimney was no longer in use, so why not get rid of it?

Using a sledge hammer, he and an assistant knocked the chimney down to below the level of the second floor. 

Benefits of removing an unused chimney

  • We were able to move the doorway for the bedroom over a couple of feet to make room for a larger closet.
  • Without a chimney going through the roof, there is no longer the risk of leaks around the chimney flashing.
  • Without a chimney going through the roof, there is no cold transfer into the house through the chimney brick.
  • We have one less structural issue to deal with in the future, in the event of deterioration of the chimney brick.
  • Removing the chimney removes an entry point for wildlife and pests.
It’s amazing the difference made by removing the chimney.

Very few modern houses have any need for chimneys as gas furnaces, water heaters and fireplaces can be vented directly outside.  Be certain your chimney is not being used for anything before you bring out the sledge hammer.

In terms of square footage, we only gained about 4 square feet.  However, there was a tremendous gain in the volume of the space (multiply that 4 square feet by eight feet high).

The chimney was removed in January 2005.

The Attic Renovation