Advice for people considering removing a chimney breast.

9 Dec 2004
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United Kingdom
I looked high and low for advice on chimney removal on the net before I did mine - I actually found it hard to get all the info I needed on one post -so heres some amature advice on the process and how to go about it.

I finished my chimney removal about a week ago now - so this is fresh in the memory. Perhaps someone can reciprocate by answering my post on Backdoors and Waste drains a bit further down the list!!??

1. Get a Party Wall Agreement from any neighbours who have an adjoining property to the wall you intend to disrupt. A short letter that you can type up and get them to sign stating they have no objection to you removing the chimney is fine.

2. Speak to Building Control ASAP - they are very helpful and the cost is not astronomical for their service - About £60-£70 should cover it. This sort of work normally requires a Building Reg Notice from them. The forms are simple and quick to complete, but you will need to draw up some decent-ish plans and get a number of copies, outlining the work.

3. We wanted to leave the stack and support it with Gallows Brackets - We were worried about what type to get and so got a structural sureveyor to visit and draw up exact plans for the brackets - this was expensive at £250 but was worth the peace of mind and the BCO couldnt really argue with the brackets and positioning of them after this advice and plan was submitted to them (Not that they did argue at any stage).

4. I got a friendly Blacksmith to knock up the Gallows Brackets to the specifications required, this was very cheap compared to getting some big name company to do it or buying something of similar proportions "off the shelf" - Shop around!!

5. Take the chimney bricks out at the correct height for the brackets. Knocking one out in the centre of the breast will be safer and willlet you see if there are any nasty surprises in the chimney - We had an old metal flue for a disused gas appliance still stuck in there! Once enough bricks are removed fit the brackets in the right places and the chimney stack will be safe and sound. I would advice supporting the stack appropriately when removing the bricks at this stage before the brackets are fitted - however, I must admit that we didnt. The wall inertia and tied in brickwork was more than secure enough to hold the stack up for the half day it took me to remove the excess bricks and then fit the brackets. Generally speaking the brackets should support the corners and side walls of the chimney breast. A steel beam will be needed to support the front wall of the chimney breast (Ours is a 8mm thick, flat rolled steel beam). We had a slight problem but a call to the BCO and a quick ammendment to the plans and all was fine. Basically we couldnt position one of the brackets under one of the side walls of the chimney stack, but by placing it as close as we could and adding a second beam across the brackets, a little further back from the first, we ended up having the required support for the stack and Building Control were happy.

6. Take the remaining bricks out from the top to the bottom. It will be very dusty, sooty and messy. It will also be Very Very noisy - so warn the neighbours and apologise profusely! Grit and dust WILL get everywhere and for a few weeks you will be constantly dusting everything in the house!! I took out the breast from attic to ground level in three days on my own - with just a medium sized KANGO HAMMER a brick bolster and a lump hammer. Its hard work and I filled a 6yd Skip - but it saved over £1000 labour that I was quoted by a builder for the work! Be careful at the ceiling areas - as bricks can be awkward to remove here.

7. Chances are you will have to replace a ceiling joist or two. This is actually an easy job (Or it was in my house - I just had to slot the old one out and slot the new one in and secure it with a few bolts. However, this part of the job may well require the removal of part of your kitchen or bedroom ceilings! So be prepared to factor in the cost of replastering the ceilings as well. Joists are cheap to buy from anywhere like Jewsons - just make sure you get the right size.

8. Fill any gaps in the brickwork where the chimney was with bits of brick and some cement. Then seal the wall with a few coats of PVA or similar to prevent the soot from possibly staining through the plasterboard or eliminate any damp issues etc - then buy some plasterboard and either baton it or dab it to the wall, plaster it over and paint it. Do the same with the ceilings and - Hey Presto!! Jobs a good 'un.

8 YOU MUST KEEP BUILDING CONTROL OFFICERS INFORMED AT EACH STAGE OF THE JOB!!! If you keep them informed and onside then its a lot less hassle and less things can go wrong.

I would recommend professionals to install the brackets, for peace of mind. However, for an able bodied person who isnt afraid of some hard graft the actual removal of the breast in the house is not a difficult job. I would definitely advocate a good quality KANGO HAMMER as the tool for this job. Dont use an angle grinder as the dust and dirt created will be intolerable!! Its satisfying to see the results of your work and even better to know that you will be saving around £1000 by doing the full job yourself!

I hope your project goes as smoothly as mine did - but if you are in any doubt at any stage call in the professionals - and always get decent professional advice before you start!!
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good post

good on you for sharing your experience and congratulations on the safe completion of some serious DIY.
Having removed a whole chimney stack myself, can I also suggest it's worth getting the chimney swept before you start work. Building dust isn't too bad, but soot is a nightmare if it gets about as it stains.

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My chimney breast is no fines concrete from the attic down which is the part I want to take down. From the chimney down it is brick in a straight drop then a 45 degree bend at the point where there is what looks like a slab under the vertical bit.
Below the slab as I say is what I want to remove.
Could it be that this slab is supporting the chimney and that I can remove everything below without the need to install gallows brackets.?

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