Fireplace removal is something we’d generally recommend that you seek professional help for, especially if we’re talking about a gas fireplace. Still, it is possible to do this alone as well, if you’re careful enough both with a brick and a gas fireplace, so let’s go over all the key steps here.
Whether we’re talking about brick or gas fireplaces, to “remove” them you’d essentially have to remove the fireplace insert, i.e. the entire body of the fireplace that’s lodged inside the masonry. This will require a fair bit of heavy lifting so you’ll probably need a buddy with you. There are also quite a few safety concerns, especially with gas fireplaces, so follow our guides to the letter and don’t skip any of the steps in them.
How to remove brick fireplaces?
Removing brick fireplaces is a tricky but manageable process even for a single person as long as you are careful with what you’re doing. Whether we’re talking about a wood-burning or an electrical fireplace insert, the process is quite similar, with the exception that you’d want to turn off the power to the fireplace before you start if it’s an electrical fireplace. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Remove all the framing and trim from around the insert. This means all the bricks, rockwork, drywall, and the framing itself. You’ll need to break apart most of the framing materials so a nice, big hammer or a mallet will likely be necessary. Also, keep in mind that the insert is usually much larger than it appears to be from the outside.
- Locate and remove the nails that keep the insert inside the framing. There will likely be “flashing” as well – flat metal pieces that overlap the wooden framing around the insert. Pry all the nails free with the hooked end of your hammer and remove the flashing as well.
- Remove all pipes, vents, and other pieces from the insert. Fireplace inserts are quite heavy so it’d help to first remove everything you can from your insert first. Anything that can be safely dismantled (and reinstalled later on) is fair game – just look for additional screws that you can take off with a wrench. In the case of an electrical fireplace, disconnect it from the power outlet.
- Use a crowbar to dislodge the insert from the masonry. Don’t take it out completely, just dislodge it. Be careful not to harm the insert or the masonry too much either. Keep in mind that a standard insert is pretty heavy – 250 lv or 110 kg – so having at least one friend with you is strongly recommended.
- Place a thick carpet in front of the fireplace before you’ve completely removed the insert. The thicker and stronger it is, the better. The idea here is to place the insert on the carpet after you’ve removed it from the masonry. This will allow you to easily and safely move the fireplace insert around on the carpet without damaging your floor or your back.
- Block off the chimney vent after you’ve removed the insert if you don’t intend to use the fireplace anymore. Use a metal sheet or plywood of the right size and screw it into place. It’s also a good idea to get a chimney cap and place it on top of the chimney for extra isolation if the whole chimney is going to remain unused.
- Move the insert to wherever you need it to go and then sweep or vacuum your floor. And that’s it!
How to remove a gas fireplace?
Removing gas fireplaces is trickier and riskier but follows a similar pattern. Here are the basic steps you’d want to follow:
- Turn off the main gas valve of your home. If you don’t know which valve that is or if there’s no house-side gas valve, as is the case with some older homes, call a gas company to turn off the gas for you.
- Remove all the trim from around the fireplace insert. Again, this means all drywall, bricks, and framing until the fireplace insert is fully exposed. You’ll likely need a hammer, a mallet or a crowbar to break up and remove all the framing.
- Disconnect the gas line that goes into the insert after you’ve removed the trim. It’s best to call for professional help for this step as well but you can do it as well. If you’ve turned off the gas valve you won’t need to cap the gas line but if you intend to turn the gas back on afterward, you’ll need to cap the fireplace gas line. To cap the gas line first wrap it with 3-4 layers of Teflon tape and then screw a brass cap over it. Remember to spray soapy water over the cap afterward to check for a gas leak (there will be bubbles if any gas is leaking).
- Place a piece of carpet in front of the fireplace. As we did with the brick fireplace insert, the goal here is to place the gas insert onto the carpet.
- Dislodge and remove the insert from the masonry with the use of the crowbar if you have to. Be careful not the damage the insert or the masonry while doing so. Gas inserts are usually lighter than brick wood-burning or electrical inserts but they are still too heavy for a single person so ask for help and work slowly.
- Move the insert on the carpet wherever you want, and then sweep and vacuum your floor – you’re done!