Pros’ guide to chimney removal

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Q: We have a new chimney on the side of our house. The old chimney runs three stories high and through the roof in the middle of the house. We need to dismantle it so that we can renovate and reclaim the space it’s taking up. Should we use a chisel and hammer or is there an easier way?

A: The easier way is through your local equipment rental center. Rent an electric demolition hammer. With a lot of work and a good deal of time, you should be able to safely take the chimney down and reclaim the inside of your house. Take your time, act deliberately and always keep safety the first order of business.

In answering a question a while back about a similar but smaller job, we suggested removing one brick at a time using a small sledgehammer known as a "single jack" and a cold chisel. We also talked about a friend of Kevin’s who just looped a chain around the top of a chimney, attached the other end of the chain to a pickup truck and pulled it down. Do the former and avoid the latter.

Single-jack sledges are hammers used by old-time miners in conjunction with a star chisel to hand-bore holes in solid rock. With each blow of the hammer, the miner turned the chisel, eventually creating a 6- to 8-inch hole suitable for placing dynamite charges.

Required safety gear for brick demolition is safety glasses or goggles, pants and long-sleeved shirt, and a set of stout work gloves.

The most challenging and dangerous part of the job will be to remove the portion of the chimney above the roofline. Make sure the person doing this part of the job is comfortable with heights and that he or she is properly secured with a rope or safety harness so that if a slip happens a fall doesn’t follow. …CONTINUED

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