I have been excited to write this post. I haven't posted hardly any pictures on facebook because I was afraid people would nit pick our decision to tear out our fireplace. But it's done and can't be undone! The only regrets I have now are that we can't store our guns back there (HA!) and I am going to miss the ambiance of a wood fire. But those things weren't enough to prevent us doing what we did.
Our reasons are thus:
1. The fireplace was terribly inefficient. Seriously guys. It was bad. It sucked air out of the house to feed the fire, air that the furnace had been working so hard to warm, air that we had paid to warm, air sucked out of the house and gone. And for what? To warm the air only directly next to the fire. As you can see from this photo, you had to be directly next to the fire to get any heat from it. Radiant heat. The rest of the house became colder and this room only slightly warmer. A fireplace guy told us you had to burn for 10-11 hours just to break even.
2. The school room was always so cold! Firstly, because of the air sucking. Secondly, because the area behind the fireplace was very poorly insulated. The bricks were just a facade - the entire space behind the brick was empty! The space was mostly finished (drywall, texturing and even ceiling popcorn), but the hole that the fireplace pipe went up didn't have adequate insulation around it. You could feel the cold air coming out of the cupboard doors next to the fireplace. Brrrr!
3. Since we added a wall down the middle of that space for the boys new room, their bedroom stays warm! So the fireplace room is cold and the boys room on the other side of that wall is warm. Hmmm. Good bye fireplace.
4. The facade was really huge. It came out four feet into the room and went 12 feet of space lengthwise. We thought we could use the extra 48 square footage in space.
5. I thought the bricks were ugly.
So we were thinking that to increase the efficiency of our house and furnace it would help just to block off the whole thing. No more air sucking or air leaking. And after Terry tore out the old wet bar that's now the boys closet in their new room (using only a hammer), we figured it wouldn't be too tough to tear out the fireplace bricks. And it wasn't too tough. Just terribly messy...
So the Friday after after our vacation when we were mostly healed with antibiotics from our terrible, lingering colds, Terry got started demolishing the fireplace facade. It only took less than an hour to do most of it and was pretty entertaining to watch. Evie thought it was too loud though. Ezra had to be contained and kept away from falling bricks.
Wah-cha! That's my sound effect for Terry's sledge-hammering of the bricks. He was just getting started here.
He should have been a model with those duck lips. Er, he was pointing out that he had just got the stupid shelf out of there (tell us how you really feel Eva. yeah, i didn't like the shelves.).
Progress: taking the mantle down. You can see the pitiful insulation around the fireplace pipe. Under the pipe was no insulation, just cold air in the winter.
After 45-60 minutes he had done all of this and we took a break for the night.
I lose track of what we did on what days... But I think over the next two days, Saturday and Sunday the 19th and 20th, we cleared out the above rubble. Terry and I dropped the bricks carefully out of that window for the kids to pick up and put in Terry's trailer. Terry's dad was here for a little bit and he helped a bit too. After that Terry busted apart the remaining bricks that were built around a box to form the outcropping where we used to set wood or sit in front of the fire. It was kind of like a bench. You can see the remaining frame below.
In the above photo Terry's trying to figure out how to take that board off the foundation wall. But he found all of these strange seed things! We have no idea what they are, if they served a purpose or if the house had a mouse or squirrel problem in the past. But they filled the area behind that board. Weird. It's a mystery.
Here is the mess of bricks, shelving and iron framing on the trailer outside the window. See how weighted down the tires were? Yeah...
Terry could not go to bed that night (Saturday I think) until he had figured out how to take the pipe off the fireplace. And figure it out he did. Then he scooted the beast off it's support so we could rip those up later.
The following day, Sunday, we spent about an hour or so chipping motor away from the whole and half bricks so we can re-use them for a garden pathway. Plus we wanted to lessen the load that the poor trailer was suffering under. The day before the kids also helped me with this while Terry was sledge-hammering away at the rest of the brick bench thing.
There's the load once we took out all the larger bricks. Still heavy. But he filled the tires and made it to the dump just fine the following day, Monday.
There is everything torn apart. We had a friend over that evening, David, and he helped Terry carry the monster fireplace outside. Then all the remaining rubble and dust had to be cleared out. That Monday, the 21st, I filled up as many buckets of rubble as I could find and waited to deposit them onto the empty trailer the next day.
So the following day, Tuesday the 22nd, I tackled the remaining rubble in the photo above all by myself. I figured Terry had enough to do and the sooner this got done, the better. I don't like a projec to be left sitting. I just want it DONE. My secret? Having self-entertaining kids. And it helps that they're not all little like Samuel and Ezra. If they were, I could only work during nap time. But as it was, I cleared out all the remaining rubble in the morning and did another project (scraping the ceiling) that afternoon. I was pretty tired that evening though. Oofdah. Oh, and this photo was actually take a few days later (Monday the 28th) when Terry had removed the fireplace frame, hammer drilled those insulation support boards into the foundation and cut and placed the insulation to fit. He also put up a few new car siding boards (what I previously thought was wainscoting). Plus, he blocked up the fireplace pipe with insulation, covered the hole with boards and then stapled insulation over it to be covered by drywall (which is now done, but I'm saving that for another post). So yeah, we've been busy but it feels good and it's gonna look even better than it feels.