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How Much Does It Cost To Remove A Fireplace Or Chimney?

Typical Range: $4,000 - $10,000

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Chimneys have become something of a novelty, and even a nuisance, to today's homeowners. Luckily, there are many ways to approach removing them which don't demand complete demolition. Depending on your need, you can have the stack removed and leave the fireplace, or visa versa. You can also replace your old wood-burning fireplace with a more efficient system, like an electric or ventless one. If you only need to remove the inconvenient or dangerous parts of the system, you can avoid the massive cost of demolishing the entire system and structure. A partial chimney or fireplace demolition might cost a homeowner $500-$2,000, where a complete removal could run $4,000 - $6,000.
Because chimneys are often deeply integrated into the structure, it is important to hire a structural engineer to analyze the situation, and to have the demolition performed by a professional. If you compromise the foundation or walls, your repair costs could skyrocket.

Chimney

If you're planning to take out the entire chimney system, you're probably looking to solve a number of problems. It is likely that your chimney has both structural integrity issues, and is causing spatial issues within the home. If you only need to remove or replace parts of your chimney, you're probably only dealing with one or two issues at a time. For example, if your chimney stack is leaning away from the house, it is a good idea to take it down and/or replace it. In this case, the lower part of the chimney can be left in place.

Full Demolition – about $4,000 - $10,000

When demolishing an entire chimney, you will need more of everything--more reinforcement, more disposal, more reconstruction of walls, floors, and ceilings, and more time. This is why the cost jumps significantly from partial demolition to full. This kind of work demands the expertise of a structural engineer. They will be honest with you about what you need in order to maintain structural safety. Once you know what you need, then it will be time to call a professional demolition expert.

Stack/Above Roof Removal - $1,000-$1,600

The stack is the portion of the chimney structure which extends above the roof. Many traditional stacks are made from brick or cement blocks. People tend to remove stacks when their structure appears compromised or is leaking. The process involves taking the stack down, brick by brick, and covering the hole in the roof where it was. A regular size stack could take two people half a day, while a large chimney stack could take a day and a half.
Cost factors to take into consideration, with this project, are scaffolding, roofing to cover the new hole (costs to repair roofing varies), and waste disposal. Often, these are built into your quote. Check with your contractors to see what services will be included.

Breast/Below Roof - $1,500-$2,500

The chimney breast is the portion which constitutes and encases the actual fireplace. You’ll notice that this portion juts out into rooms, which is one of the main reasons homeowners remove it. If you aren’t using the fireplace, and you can see other practical uses for that space, you can remove the breast itself without demolishing the chimney stack.
When removing the breast alone, there will be a lot more reinforcement required in order to support the remaining parts of the structure. See more details on the cost of installing steel beams for structural support. You will also need to take into account the cost of refinishing a room afterward, whether this demands a new wall installation (ranging in cost from $2,000 to nearly $3,000) or hanging drywall.

Flue & Liner - $$1,000-$5,000

If you are having your flue removed, it is likely because you want to replace it with something more effective. The cost of relining a chimney or installing a liner for the first time can run $1,000 to $5,000. The flue is the passageway through which combustion gases leave the fireplace. Liners protect the materials and mortar of brick and masonry chimneys, as they are resistant to corrosion and provide a barrier between the gases and these materials. These liners are made of either metal or concrete.
Old-fashioned flues will not be lined, and this should be remedied as soon as possible. If a liner isn’t up to standard, it may need to be replaced or upgraded. The variance in cost is due to many factors, including the condition of the chimney and the flue material. Clay, for example, costs much less than metal.
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Fireplace

It is possible to remove the fireplace by itself and leave the stack or chimney flue. In fact, in homes where there are fireplaces on two levels, some homeowners might choose to remove one and not the other. The most important aspect of this kind of removal is reinforcement. A lot of supports will need to be installed in order to maintain the structural integrity of your house. The following are the various fireplaces you may want removed independently, including wood stoves, gas and electric inserts, and outdoor units. For information on full demolitions, including the chimney stack, see the section above.

Wood Stove - $500-$1,000

Taking out an old wood stove and replacing it with a more environmentally conscious system can actually raise the value of your home. Older-model wood stoves can be major pollutants and can also stir up allergens. Homeowners tend to remove them for these reasons, or if they aren’t working and are taking up needed space. In fact, if you still want the visual aspect of a wood stove, older models can be swapped out for new EPA-approved ones.
The costs associated include labor, debris removal, patching the ceiling, and capping off the chimney. Consider, also, that these stoves are typically vented through the wall of your home or up into the existing chimney. Removal of or covering ventilation may be a necessary part of the process.

Removing Electric or Gas Fireplace Insert - $600-$2,500

Your electric fireplace likely doesn't have a chimney or flue, as it doesn't emit any fumes. This is one of the easiest types to remove. You may be able to do this yourself, or hire an electrician. Pulling the insert out, however, is only one part of the job. You'll want to enlist a few professionals for demolition of the mantle and hearth.
Gas fireplaces, on the other hand, do emit carbon monoxide and require a chimney. They run on either propane or natural gas, and will therefore be connected to a gas line which will need to be turned off and dismantled. Best practice, when removing a gas fireplace, would be to hire a plumber with a gas fitters license.
Your price will be on the low end, around $600, if you don't need to demolish the chimney breast. An example of this would be changing out one electric fireplace for another. A higher demand on demolition and remodeling could raise your price to $2,500.

Ventless Fireplace - Varies

These fireplaces run on either natural gas or propane, much like the gas fireplaces mentioned above. They are different, though, because ventless fireplaces do not need to be vented. They release carbon monoxide, but the amount is insubstantial and harmless when installed correctly and in coordination with the size of the room.
It is always best to hire a demolition expert who is certified to handle gas, and who is familiar with the unit. Removal costs will vary greatly, depending on how your fireplace is situated in the home—wall mounted, inserted in a fireplace, or installed with a pre-fab mantle.

Outdoor Fireplaces – Varies

Outdoor fireplaces are a great solution to keeping smoke out of the house. They work by way of a boiler system, so that the fire burns in the outside fireplace and the connected boiler system heats the inside. You may want to remove yours because it produces too much smoke, has deteriorated, or you want to replace it with a different kind of heating system. The cost to remove this type of fireplace depends on how far the boiler system reaches, how or if the unit is framed, and how you plan to use that area afterward. It is best to get a custom quote from a professional contractor.
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Cost Considerations

There are many different elements to factor into your cost. Wiring and material are two big ones which could drive your final price in one direction or another. It is important to talk about these things with your structural engineer.
  • Location In Home – Fireplaces are usually installed either into an exterior or interior wall. For interior walls, it is recommended to approach demolition from the back side of the wall. You can better deconstruct this way, coming through the interior wall from the other side. For exterior, the best approach is from the front. The price will not vary significantly from one to another, as the cost of interior wall demolition involves as much work as removing the front pieces of the fireplace.
  • Type/Material Used - You won’t be paying as much on stack removal if you have a metal chimney. Chimney stacks built with masonry materials, like brick, will be more time-consuming and demand more waste removal than their metal counterparts.
  • Damage - Several types of damage could raise your project cost. Asbestos, for example, was a key element in the construction of fireplaces before the 1980's. The hourly rate for removing asbestos is $200-$700 per hour. Another common issue is with the gallows brackets, which may need to be replaced with stronger reinforcements if they are not sufficient after removing the chimney breast.
  • Regulations – You may think that you have the right to remove elements from your home, but the nature of removing a chimney may require permission, depending on your zoning area. Trying to figure this out on your own can often be difficult. Hiring an engineer to help you get the right permissions and follow building codes is a worthwhile first step in the project. Talk to your contractor to see if the building permit—a necessary permit—is included in their cost. In order to get your permit approved, a detailed plan must be submitted.

Why Remove a Chimney?

In spite of the visual appeal of chimneys, there are a lot of good reasons to get rid of them. Some of them are simply aesthetic, while others have to do with structural integrity.
  • Upgrading or replacement – Your wood-burning fireplace may not be cutting it, but it could be smarter to replace it rather than nix it altogether. Fireplaces are still a top amenity for homebuyers—especially in cold climates—and replacing them can have significant returns on investment. Old ones can be replaced with gas or electric ones for greater efficiency and lower maintenance demands. If this is your reason, you’ll want to look at the costs to install a fireplace and add that to your demolition price. On average, homeowners spend $2,000 on installation alone.
  • Damage to stack or fireplace - A leaning or crumbling stack is dangerous and should probably be removed. Some damage, however, can be repaired, though the cost to repair a fireplace can vary greatly. Cracks and water leaks can be patched and managed, and you can invest in a high-quality flue liner to protect the chimney into the future. A structural engineer can help you decide if your damage is fixable or beyond repair. Quality maintenance can also combat damage, which is why it’s important to hire a chimney sweep. The cost to hire a chimney sweep typically costs homeowners about $250. How often you'll need your chimney maintained will depend on how frequently you use it. The National Fire Protection Association suggests annual inspections. Consult with a professional in your area to see how frequently you need service.
  • Moisture issues - Moisture can sometimes creep into the home through the chimney. If the unit isn’t being used, you may think removal is the only option. However, you may be able to get away with a partial demolition--removing the stack and roofing over the hole to eliminate the entry for moisture.
  • Repurposing space - As mentioned, chimney breasts can take up a lot of room and limit where you can put furniture or electronics. People tend to repurpose this space for shelving, storage and entertainment centers. It is often necessary to install drywall after the removal, in order to restore the surface. Drywall installation is priced about $40-$60 per panel, including labor and materials.
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What to Expect When Hiring a Pro?

This service requires a lot of time and at least two workers at once, because removing the chimney has the potential to compromise stability and needs to be dealt with carefully. Brick chimney stacks, for example, will need to be removed brick by brick. As mentioned before, it is best to call an engineer first, so they can inspect the location of the chimney and determine the best way to approach removal.
When selecting a professional to perform your demolition, find out what will be part of their services. Are scaffolding and waste removal included in their quote? What about reconstruction of the walls? If not, you’ll have to factor these extra costs into your budget. Also, this work is dusty and messy, so you’ll want to cover or move furniture out of the work space if this is not included in the service.
Most importantly, do some research on the professionals in your area. This is a serious project which can have a significant impact on your home value, if poorly done. Make sure to hire someone who has experience in this area, and who will keep you updated and informed throughout the process.
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