Some people love new carpets, while others love to strip the carpet back to expose the authentic wooden floorboards. In the same way, some like to add a brand new fireplace, and others prefer to get back to basics and expose the original features. It might sound like more work to get the original fireplace up and running again, but just imagine your fireplace unblocked and ready for action in the next few weeks. So inviting. Just the place for an open fire, or a traditional solid fuel burner to keep you warm through the winter.
The first thing to say is that professional help is readily available, so you don’t need to find yourself making costly mistakes or undertaking a job that’s bigger than you can handle. Find an expert, especially one who comes with recommendations, and get some advice at the very least.
Let’s assume the blocked chimney in your house has been finished professionally so that you can still see the vent. Open this up to start with to have a look what’s behind. You may need a torch. Any skirting board is going to have to come off, and you’d better double check the hearth to find out if it’s in good condition.
Give the chimney breast a tap to find out what’s covering the opening. With any luck, that tapping test will prove it’s just a board covering the surface, which can be very easy to remove. If not, you may be looking at something a bit more involved. You’ll have to exercise caution if you’re actually taking bricks away. We’d suggest you start at the bottom and work up, moving carefully from left to right to avoid problems. Only remove bricks to the edge of the original fireplace. Anything that needs repair can be treated with the right kind of cement. Make sure you use the specialist kind that’s designed to be heatproof.
Opening the front is just the first issue. Next, you'll want to find out if the chimney still works, which means it will draw the fire properly. This can be as simple as lighting a candle and putting it in front of the fireplace. If the flames are flickering and the smoke is drawn up into the chimney, that’s a great sign. If not, the chimney might have been capped. Whatever you discover here, it’s a great idea to call in a professional chimney sweep to ensure the vent is clean, clear and ready for use.
When everything has been checked and you’re sure the fireplace is good to go, it’s time for all that effort to be rewarded. Light the fire, make sure any fuel you use is acceptable for local legislation and enjoy your open fireplace. Accessories like a mantel, surround, or a new hearth is easy to add later. And if you decide you’d like a real, traditional log burner, that’s also an option.
Most people who open up their fireplaces feel really positive about taking that step, both in terms of heating and practicality and also in terms of the feel of the home. So if you’re considering opening up your fireplace, we reckon you should give it a go.