What to Consider Before Removing Your Chimney

brick chimney old old roof

Updated December 15, 2023

While you may be looking at your old, unuseable chimney and thinking about removing it, it’s not always as simple as you think. There are several factors to take into consideration before you begin your project. 

If removing your chimney is strictly for aesthetic purposes, the amount of time, effort, and money that it takes to remove it properly may not be worth the trouble.

We’ll break down the important factors to consider before starting a chimney removal project.

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Understanding How a Chimney Is Built

There are two major parts to a chimney—terms that will continuously come up when discussing a chimney project. Getting a grip on what these two terms mean is a key part to calculating costs and determining how to proceed with the work.

Chimney Breast

The chimney breast is arguably the most important part of the chimney, as it provides your home with additional insulation and a great deal of structural support.

Typically, removing any part of a chimney breast will require the use of structural reinforcements.

Chimney Stack

The chimney stack is the most visible part of the chimney—the part that extends out of the roof. Leaks and structural damage are common issues among aging chimneys, and common reasons for wanting to remove.

In some cases, you may have the option to simply patch the ceiling and extend the roof over the stack’s remaining gap.

All chimney removal projects involve the removal of the chimney stack, but not all chimney removals require that the chimney breast be removed as well. It really depends on how your chimney is installed, as well as you overall budget for the removal.

What to Consider Before You Begin

There are a number of short-term and long-term effects to take into consideration before a chimney demolition:

Reasons for Chimney Removal

There are a number of reasons why you may consider removing your chimney:

  • Stack is badly damaged
  • Local pollution ordinances/LEED Certification
  • No longer plan to use it
  • Reclaiming unused space
  • Leaks in chimney/roof area
  • Home insulation

Financial Investment

While initial costs of chimney removal are at the forefront of most people’s minds, the long-term effect on your home’s value should be a major consideration, too.

For example, if your home is old, the chimney provides a nice aesthetic feature that many homebuyers look for. If a majority of other homes in the area have chimneys, it could negatively impact your home’s value not to have one.

Most real estate agents agree that having a working indoor fireplace can increase a home's resale value by $1,000-$6,000. That is why most homeowners get a chimney repair estimate in addition to a removal estimate so that they can compare the cost when considering whether or not chimney repair or removal is the best use of their time and money.

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Time Requirements

Removing a chimney is a time-consuming project, as it must be carefully disassembled one brick at a time to avoid causing any structural damage.

This not only affects your calendar, but it can affect your wallet, too. The more time it takes to complete the project, the higher the labor costs. 

Be sure to plan out each step of the project with your contractor before they start so that you both are on the same page and have the same timeline expectations.

Speak to Multiple Contractors

Reach out to multiple professionals before hiring somebody. This ensures the best company is hired for the job.

Speaking to multiple contractors will allow you to get multiple opinions on your chimney, taking its condition and other factors into consideration.

If you plan to remove any aspect of the chimney, you may need to get the opinion of structural experts so that you can address any potential issues.

The contractor hired for the work should be willing to handle the permitting process for you. If they aren’t willing to do so, be aware that this could be a sign they are not properly licensed.

When researching contractors, look into what their customers think of their work. Be sure you’re hiring someone who is reliable and experienced in chimney removal.

The best way to do this is to read reviews from past customers. Reading reviews on Hometown is one of the best ways to ensure the reviews you're reading are submitted from real customers and not the company's family members or competition. 

Hometown makes it easy to find and request free quotes from chimney removal experts in your area. All you need to do is enter your zip code, answer a few short questions about your chimney removal project, and you'll be shown licensed, insured, and locally-owned companies that service your area. 

Getting multiple free quotes from different services providers allow you to compare professionalism, pricing, customer reviews, and availability—all in one convenient place.

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Complete vs. Partial Chimney Removal

A complete chimney removal involves getting rid of the entire structure—stack and breast. They require ample structural reinforcement because they leave a large gap in your house.

A partial chimney removal typically involves removing just the stack. While these also require some reinforcement, it is typically only needed along the roof to help strengthen it and prevent leaks.

Partial removals are quicker and less expensive, but if you want to get rid of your chimney stack and replace the space the chimney breast takes up in your home, then a full removal is the best option.

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Debris Disposal

dumpster full of broken bricks

Removing any part of your chimney can create quite a bit of debris, especially if your plans involve removing the chimney breast. You will likely have to deal with a large amount of brick and/or tile. This can be expensive to dispose of and may also require special permits.

Be sure you have a good understanding of local disposal regulations. Speak with your contractor about salvaging or recycling as much as possible to keep costs low and reusable materials out of the landfill.

Most of the time your chimney removal contractor will take care of the debris disposal for you, but if for some reason they do not, renting a temporary dumpster is the most time and cost-efficient way to dispose of demolition debris.

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