No Chimneys!

[UPDATE MARCH 2016: since this post was written, Leanne and I have entered into a contract dispute with Ridgewater Homes. For more details, click here.]


Last week I was having so much fun taking apart chimneys I couldn’t stop. This week we have sprung into serious action because our permits are almost ready and Nickel Bros. says once the permits are ready, we can go ahead and lift the house. Yikes!

That means cutting the services to the house, cleaning out what is left in the basement, and looking forward to Ridgewater jack-hammering holes in the basement floor on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Here’s what it looks like to take a chimney down, brick by brick, from the apex of the roof through the top floor landing, then the kitchen and finally the basement.

On the way down you can see the round openings that once connected to pipes. There were two wood-burning stoves for warming rooms–one on the top floor and one in the living room–as well as the stove in the kitchen. The second opening in the kitchen I discovered was probably used at a different time by a different stove.

With this chimney gone, we have eliminated a huge hole in the envelope of our house. Now we can run ducting and pipes up and down the entire height of the house with ease.

Now that you have the general picture, here are some detailed shots.

First, this is looking into the hole in the roof after I removed most of the bricks I could reach from outside. When we put in that Roxul batt insulation I had to crawl up into the ceiling. We put two layers of R22 in there–as much as we could fit.

It was easier to get the bricks down from this side of the roof than it was from the scaffolding.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the chimney in the basement, I disconnected the furnace from the chimney. On the other side of the chimney there was another connection. I don’t know what that was used for, perhaps the sawdust furnace or a wood heating stove for when Carl was working in the basement in his workshop. You can see the chimney liner within and the rubble that has fallen from the dismantling of the chimney above.

Before it got too dark outside, I got into the landing at the top of the third floor stairs where I could keep working late.
It was interesting seeing and smelling the soot and creosote that lined the inside of the chimney and had been there almost 100 years. I found one connection to what must have been a wood-burning stove in my son’s room (on the right in these photos filled in with two bricks) but none for the other bedroom.

I put the bricks I pulled out on the floor in my daughter’s bedroom. What can we use them for?

Bricks in the daughter's room
Bricks in the daughter’s room

In the kitchen I needed a ladder and put the bricks into a tub on the fridge before stacking them on the floor. This chimney has always been in the way here. I’ll be glad when it is gone.DSCN2887
There are three filled-in connections: two into the kitchen and one into the living room on the other side of that wall.

Sooner than I had expected, all the rubble that I had been dropping down the chimney caught up with me. I ended up emptying it into a bucket from the hole in the basement, which worked very well. Gravity is cool.

By the time I had finished I had piles of bricks in the bedroom upstairs, the kitchen and the basement. I’m paying my kids 5 cents a brick to stack them outside. Even with the incentive, however, they are still reluctant workers for some reason.

Here’s what it looks like from the top floor to the basement. Watch your step!

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James Rowley

James lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada with his amazing partner, Leanne Koehn, and their two amazing kids in their beautiful house. He studied Science and English Literature at the University of British Columbia where he met Leanne. He also studied acting for a while at Studio 58 in Vancouver. He works as a teacher of English and curriculum writer for new Canadians.

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