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Chimney breast removal: 10 most common questions answered

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If you have a fireplace in your home, chances are there’s a chimney breast.

Chimney breasts protrude outwards into your room. While making your home look and feel classy, they could take up a lot of space you can reclaim and make more useful.

Key factors you need to consider if you want to remove a chimney breast include noise insulation, ventilation, damp prevention, and how the process impacts your neighbor’s wall.

This post will examine the 10 most common questions homeowners have regarding chimney breast removal.

We will focus on the entire process, from creating a plan for the removal of the chimney breast to the installation of support structures. Let’s get started.

Can chimney breasts be removed?

While most chimney breasts can be removed, the removal of others can have a negative impact on the structural integrity of a house. Chimney breasts used to be vital parts of homes as the fireplace was the major source of heat in homes.

There are alternative heating systems today, so a chimney breast may not serve any purpose in the modern home. This makes the component unnecessary, and that’s why many homeowners choose to get rid of it.

It is important to note that removing a chimney breast isn’t as simple as it sounds. It will probably affect the structural integrity of your home and can lead to further repair costs if not done correctly.

Take the following steps if you want to remove the chimney breast from your home:

  • Check the required planning permissions – You will not always need planning permission to make internal alterations to your home. If you live in a listed building, you will need one, so ensure you check before proceeding.
  • Check if regulatory approval is required – Submit an application to the building regulations body in your local area. Do it early, as approval can take several days.
  • Create a party wall agreement when needed – Applicable if your chimney is connected to your neighbor’s wall. Your neighbor will need to provide consent.
  • Consult with a structural engineer to know the appropriate support for the chimney stack – A structural engineer will advise on the best and safest way to remove the breast wall.
  • Build the support structure – Support structures are required to support the upper sections of the chimney stack as you remove the chimney breast.

What is the purpose of a chimney breast?

A chimney breast encases the flue and ensures heat from the fireplace remains in your home. The chimney breast also serves as a structural element.

Since it is a supporting structure, you will need to first consult with a structural engineer who will develop a plan for its removal to ensure your home isn’t damaged.

Reasons to remove chimney breasts

There are multiple reasons why homeowners chimney breast walls. Here are the most common ones:

Takes too much space – Chimney breasts extend outwards, taking up significant floor space in your living room. If you want to create space for a couch, cabinet, or anything else, removing the chimney breast will help. Note that some homeowners remove this structure so that that part of the wall blends in with the other walls in looks.

No longer useful – Chimney breasts are mainly found in old homes. This is because the fireplace was the home’s major heat source decades ago. The breast wall provided insulation, ensuring the room was warm and cozy. Nowadays, there are numerous heating options like electric fireboxes and room heaters. This eliminates the need for a chimney breast.

Prefer different heating functions – Some homeowners prefer other heating options, such as central heating systems like boilers. A wood-burning fireplace can allow smoke, soot, and dangerous gasses like carbon monoxide into the home, causing several health problems. So, removing a chimney breast wall makes sense if you have other heating options.

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Who can remove a chimney breast?

Removing a chimney breast is not the typical DIY job. We recommend hiring the services of professional structural engineers and builders if you want to remove a chimney breast.

Is it safe to remove a chimney breast?

Removing the chimney breast is safe if you follow the right procedure, which includes checking if you need planning permission, adhering to building regulations, hiring a structural engineer, and using skilled builders.

Taking the chimney breast out for many houses will not impact their structural integrity. This is because the chimney breast is not a significant structural element in these homes.

If you want to keep the upper sections of the chimney, you will need to support them using Strongboy steel props before you demolish the lower part.

It’s advisable to use the props to support the chimney’s upper part and later use a more permanent solution, such as a rolled steel joist (RSJ). A structural engineer will advise on the best way to support the upper part of the chimney.

Can you remove a chimney breast yourself?

Removing the chimney breast yourself is risky. The chimney breast is a vital load-bearing wall and requires professionals to do the removal. It is a task that takes several days to complete.

The first thing you should do if you want to remove the chimney breast is to get in touch with a structural engineer.

The engineer will create a plan to remove the wall breast wall and determine the necessary structural support components. Keep in mind that the designs and plans must follow building regulations.

Chimney breast removal involves a lot of dust and debris. So, clear the room and seal it from the other items in your house.

Do not forget to isolate and alter any electric, plumbing, and gas fixtures. The processes should go smoothly if you use the services of experienced personnel.

Does chimney breast removal need building regulations?

Chimney breast removal changes the structure of your so you need to adhere to building regulations that cover the following areas:

  • Electrical and fire safety
  • Sound insulation
  • Plumbing work
  • Maintenance of neighboring chimney
  • Damp prevention and regulation
  • Structural strength

Planning permission

While most states don’t require planning permission for internal changes, such as the removal of a chimney breast, some do.

Remember, these development laws only apply to private homes. You will need the landlord’s consent to make interior alterations to the leasehold property. And if it is a shared freehold, the owners must agree to remove the chimney breast.

Does chimney breast removal need a party wall agreement?

A party wall agreement is applicable if your property is adjoined to your neighbor’s. A chimney breast removal, in this case, will affect your neighbor’s property.

Therefore, the law requires you to inform your neighbors about the structural changes you’re about to make.

The best way to inform your neighbors is to have a legal expert serve the notice to them.

Remember, these structural changes can cause problems like carbon monoxide leaks. So, ensure you use professionals to draw a plan, do the demolition, and patch up the missing part of the wall.

Do you need a structural engineer to remove a chimney breast?

The first thing you should do if you want to remove a chimney breast from your home is to get in touch with a certified structural engineer.

Removing a chimney breast wall alters the structure of your house, so the process needs to be planned by an expert.

Another reason for using a qualified structural engineer is they will help you follow the building regulations.

Remember, some local authorities will not allow you to employ forms of support like gallows brackets.

A structural engineer will know about the appropriate design scheme and will help you comply with the building rules in your local area.

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Does removing a chimney breast devalue a house?

Removing a chimney breast can decrease the value of older homes. People looking to buy older homes seek features such as a chimney breast, and the absence of one can put them off.

On the other hand, removing a chimney breast in modern homes doesn’t decrease its value. In fact, it could increase its value as you will have created more space.

Can you remove just the downstairs chimney breast?

You can remove the downstairs chimney breast leaving the external stack intact. So, removing the chimney breast will not change the aesthetic appeal of your home when seen from the outside. A qualified structural engineer and experienced builders will help you do this properly.

Chimney breast removal cost

Chimney breast removal costs $1600-$2900. The total cost covers structural chimney breast beam installation, professional fees, demolition costs, and redecoration of the chimney wall. Note that the final price can reach $5000.

Chimney breast removal structural engineer cost

Consulting a structural engineer before removing the chimney breast costs around $500.

Partial chimney removal cost

Partial chimney breast removal (removing the fireplace only) costs $500-$2000.

Removing chimney breast downstairs only cost

Removing the ground floor/downstairs chimney breast costs between $1700 and $2100.

Conclusion

Chimney breast removal is not a simple DIY project. You need to hire a structural engineer and experienced builders. Removing your chimney breast creates more space and improves the interior design of your living room.

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Thomas Green

Thomas Green

Thomas has worked in the Chimney & Fireplace field for over 12 years. He is an expert in his trade and loves to help People with their needs. Thomas Write helpful articles so that homeowners can make the most informed decisions about their fireplace and chimney.