You can remove a fireplace without removing the chimney, as long as the chimney has proper support
Everyone loves a good fireplace—or do they? A cozy fire sounds nice, but fireplaces can be dirty and expensive to maintain, and they come with inherent safety risks. As a result, some homeowners would rather just have a wall there.
But a fireplace isn't just that hole in your wall. It's also the shaft running up through your house and the chimney poking out the top. Removing all of that would certainly be a tall order—and an expensive one.
Fortunately, you don't have to do all that to close up your fireplace. Here is what you need to know.
Why Would You Want to Remove Your Fireplace?
A fireplace can be a big selling point for a realtor and may increase the value of a home, but not everyone wants one for good reasons.
When you burn an open fire in your home, there are going to be safety risks. An ember could land on your floor and start a fire. Or you could close the chimney improperly and cause a carbon monoxide leak.
Expensive to Maintain and Use
You'll need to hire a certified technician to inspect your chimney and maintain your fireplace, keeping it functioning and ensuring it’s safe. You’ll also need to pay a chimney sweep for a regular chimney cleaning. Then there's all the firewood you have to buy to keep it running.
Time Spent on Maintenance
Even if you hire a technician, you'll have to do some cleaning and maintenance yourself. Also, fireplaces are dirty and can require cleanup in the area around it regularly.
You can't just leave an active fireplace and go to bed. Even if the fire has died out, those ashes may still be hot and pose a fire risk if left unattended.
If you are concerned about your effect on the environment, a fireplace may not be for you. Most of the heat created by a fireplace goes up through the chimney and into the atmosphere. You're burning a lot of wood for not much heat in your home.
What Is Involved in Removing a Fireplace?
The process for removing a fireplace differs depending on the type that you have.
Zero Clearance Fireplaces
A zero clearance fireplace fits into a framed wall and removing it is more straightforward. The demolition would involve opening up the wall and removing the fireplace from the framing that holds it in place. Once removed, you can either install another fireplace measuring the same size, or simply install supports for the chimney and cover the space up.
Masonry fireplaces are more difficult to remove, and the process can get messy. You'd have to completely tear down the chimney breast, and that may create more problems than it solves. In any case, hire a professional to inspect it and do the work.
How Much Does It Cost to Remove a Fireplace?
Removal of the chimney system and structure is expensive. Expect to pay $500 to $2000 for partial demolition, and $4,000 to $6,000 for full removal. And that's not counting a $500 inspection from a structural engineer to ensure you're not endangering your house by doing so.
If you're just removing the fireplace, however, that costs a lot less. On the low end, you can expect to pay around $600, but if you want to do a more extensive demolition that involves putting in supports for the chimney and remodeling the space, you could pay as much as $2,500.
There may be additional costs if you want to seal and cap your chimney.
Can I Remove a Fireplace Myself?
While it’s tempting to do work like this yourself to save some money, this is not something an amateur should try to do. You’re dealing with extremely heavy items and risk compromising the structure of your house if you don’t do it right. It’s also a lot of hard work that requires special tools.
Instead, contact a professional chimney inspector near you to come take a look at your fireplace. You can discuss what your options are and get a general price quote. You may not get the answer you want, but at least you’ll know for sure what you should do about your fireplace situation.