New York City is dotted with houses that range in age from a few days to a few hundred years, and many of those old houses still survive today with a single source of heat: their centuries-old fireplace. These once-vital parts of a Victorian-era or even much older home are on the go, however, due to the recent drop in cost and rise in efficiency of heat pumps.
It's not an easy thing to get rid of, though. Chimney removal in NYC
means finding someone licensed by the state to come in and fundamentally alter a good portion of your home's structure. On the other hand, a traditional 'chimney breast' -- that is, the part of your chimney that extends into the room that your fireplace sits in -- takes up dozens if not scores of square feet that could be better used for...well, anything else.
Of course, there are cosmetic considerations -- fireplaces are pretty in addition to being functional -- but you also have to ask yourself what would look better there. Perhaps it's the perfect place to hang a flat-screen TV, or put up a beautiful mahogany bookshelf. Fireplaces are often the focal point of a room, which makes them prime real estate for other things you might want to focus on.
There's a good reason you have to have a certified professional to come in and remove your chimney: screwing it up can severely damage your home. Chimneys tend to run alongside or in some cases be
structural elements of a home, so a chimney removal isn't a light job. Even if you have to call in a chimney pro from Long Island
or the mainland, always
make sure you get someone that knows exactly what they're doing for this big of a job.
In particular, a chimney breast tends to be made of a few very heavy parts. If the wall supporting the breast isn't properly supported, it can come down during the process. This can sometimes be a good thing if the wall isn't load-bearing and you were planning on removing it anyway, but more often than not it's a huge problem.
In Part II, we'll go into a few details about building code and chimney removal that will have you searching the phone book for the absolute most professional group you can find for this important job.
Chimney Rebuilding, Chimney Repair