Removing a cinder block chimney can be a big, lengthy, and expensive job. If you're considering doing it yourself, you're in the right place. We researched how to remove a cinder block chimney, and here's what we found out.
To remove a cinder block chimney, follow these steps:
- Get the necessary permits
- Consult with a masonry expert
- Put on protective gear
- Tear down the bricks from the top using a sledgehammer and masonry chisel
- Properly dispose of the debris and rubble
But before you put on your hard hat and dive in, it's important to address permits, safety, and structural concerns. Keep reading to learn more about these crucial factors.
Demolishing A Chimney
Demolishing a chimney can be tricky, especially if the structure runs through the roof and several levels of the house.
When removing the chimney, you will be left with holes in the wall, roof, and floor that will need repairing. If you don't know how to do this, you need to hire a contractor.
There are two important factors to look into when removing a chimney: labor and materials. The bulk of the cost will go to labor. If you're going to hire professionals for a chimney demolition, the cost can be anywhere between $800 to $7,500. This depends on whether they will do a partial or complete chimney demolition.
You will then need to hire another contractor to do the structural repairs, which entails additional labor costs. You will also need to purchase the materials needed for the renovations. The cost will depend on how extensive the repairs are.
Given these huge expenses, it's understandable why you would want to attempt to demolish a chimney yourself. You can save money and only pay for the materials and structural repairs that come afterward.
Planning The Demolition Job
If you're planning to do the demolition yourself, you need to consider the following:
- Labor: The job is very labor intensive, so you need to ask yourself if you are fit enough to do it.
- Time: Doing it yourself will make the job longer, so if you are pressured for time, you may need to hire professionals who can work faster with heavy-duty equipment.
- House structure: Removing a chimney that runs through several parts of the house can cause a structural imbalance. You may need to pay for a consultation with a masonry expert before you start demolition.
- Debris: After demolition, you will need to haul the rubble and debris away.
How To Remove A Cinderblock Chimney
What You'll Need:
- Protective gear: gloves, safety goggles, face mask
- Tools: ladder, sledgehammer, masonry chisel, shovel
- Truck to haul the debris
1. Get The Necessary Permits
Before you start the job, you may need to check with your local code enforcement office to find out if you need a demolition or construction permit.
Every state has different regulations on this matter. For instance, in Seattle, if you're only removing a structure of a house, you need to get a construction permit, but you don't need to obtain an additional demolition permit.
2. Consult A Professional
If you're not knowledgeable about the structural integrity of your home, you should consult with a masonry expert or a professional demolition service.
They will be able to tell you which parts of the house need to be reinforced and where the weak spots are that need extra attention. You may need to install temporary structural support, as is often the case for older chimneys.
A masonry expert can guide you on whether it's best to do a partial or complete removal. A structural engineer or a contractor can help identify concerns with home structures and reinforcements. You may need the help of several types of experts to cover all safety aspects of the job.
3. Put On Protective Gear
Demolishing a chimney is a dangerous job, so safety should be your top priority. Make sure you are armed with the right protective gear.
Dust and debris will be flying everywhere, so use safety goggles to protect the eyes and a face mask to avoid inhaling dust.
If the chimney is located within the house, you may need to seal off portions of the house with plastic to contain the dust and debris in one room.
You should wear pants, a long-sleeved shirt, non-slip shoes, and gloves for protection from the debris.
4. Start The Tear Down
The safest way to tear down a chimney is to start from the top. If your cinder block chimney runs through the roof, it would be ideal to take it down brick by brick.
Use a sledgehammer to loosen the structure. Then use a chisel to pry out the bricks. Let each brick slide down gently at the side of the roof, making sure it doesn't damage other parts of the roof.
If the chimney is located at the back of the house, it will be easier to remove. You can use a chain and a crowbar to pry off the chimney structure and pull it down to the ground.
Check out this video below to see how it's done.
5. Disposing Of The Debris
Now that your chimney is on the ground, you're faced with the gargantuan task of cleaning up the mess. How do you do it?
If your property is big enough, you can simply break down the bricks and find a spot where you can dump or bury the debris.
If you live in a smaller area with limited ground space, you can hire a truck to load the debris and haul it to the nearest landfill or recycling facility.
Will Removing A Chimney Impact My Home's Structure?
Yes, a chimney can serve as a structural support to a home. Beams, roofing, and floor joists can be attached to it. This usually happens with chimneys located at the back of the house.
This is why it's important to consult with a professional before any type of demolition job in your home to avoid costly mistakes.
Does A Chimney Have Its Own Foundation?
Chimneys have their own foundations and footing. It should be strong and adequate enough to support the load of the whole chimney structure.
You will be able to tell that the chimney has a foundation problem if it suddenly starts leaning. Another indication is if moisture and mold start to enter the house through the chimney gaps.
What Holds A Chimney Up?
The bricks themselves are the structural foundation that holds a chimney up. A chimney doesn't have any beams or steel posts that hold it together.
That's why building the foundation and footing meticulously from the ground up is extremely important. It is what supports the entire weight of the chimney.
Regular inspection is also necessary to ensure it's always in good shape to avoid any safety risks.
Can A Chimney Fall Into A House?
One reason you may want to remove a chimney is if your house is located in a seismically active region. Chimneys can collapse into a house, causing major structural damage and injuries to occupants.
When a chimney collapses into a house with its full weight, it can cause explosive destruction. The destruction may seem limited to one room, but the structural integrity of the entire house can be compromised.
Although cinder blocks are stronger than red bricks, a cinder block chimney is still prone to collapse and damage during an earthquake.
Removing a chimney is a huge job, but it's doable if you have the right tools, physical strength, and support. We hope the information above will help you properly plan how to proceed with your chimney demolition project.
For more information on chimney removal and installation, check out these other great articles.