To fireplace or not to fireplace... (repair or remove)

My 95 year old house is in need of all manner of major renovations. If I really go for it and have the foundation replaced the first thing they'll do is remove the brick siding and stone at the front. This is necessary if for no other reason than to protect the workers who are doing the foundation work. Besides, the mortar between the bricks is turning to sand - a bunch of bricks have actually fallen off the building!
There's a fair sized fireplace and a red brick chimney on my two story house. From the outside, the chimney looks OK except maybe the top few brick layers. I guess the whole chimney will have to come down too. It doesn't freeze around here, really, but I don't have a heater (just space heaters I use occasionally). I use the fireplace sometimes in the winter to make brief little fires - I wouldn't trust it with a raging biglog fire. If I did that, smoke would come in through the mantel (I sealed that with duct tape years ago).
Contractor's seem to want to discourage me from repairing or replacing the fireplace but they don't tell me it isn't doable. The cheapest thing would seem to be to remove it entirely if and when I have the foundation rebuilt and the siding replaced.
I have a lot of wood from trimming my plum trees. I figure I'll cut those trees down, so I'll have a lot of wood to burn (or give away).
Yes, I could buy a wood burning stove, but aren't they sort of depressing? I mean, you don't get to watch the fire, right? I know there's a pollution downside to burning wood, but I'm not going to be a big wood burner, just an occasional small, short fire for the hell in it and a quick warm up.
Is it just too damned expensive to replace/repair my fireplace/chimney? Thanks for any information.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Please do not take offense - It really sounds like you need to get your priorities straight. First it sounds like you need to make sure your house doesn't fall down You probably have a leaky roof if I were to guess You probably have a lot of exterior maintenance like rotted window frames, etc. Tell me I'm wrong.
So - First make your house structurally sound. Then weather tight, then fix the aesthetics. Remove the fireplace if its a safety thing. Do not use it unless its been fixed properly.
What I would recommend for you. Please take my advice, it will be well worth it.
Hire a good home inspector or a good general contractor. Pay them to do a top to bottom inspection of the house. Ask them to note all the problems, and potential hidden problems. Then ask them to prioritize them for you, most critical first, on down. Pay well for this. Use this as a road map for your renovations as you are able to do them. Do not waste yours or anyone else's time buy getting free estimates on fixing a chimney when there are likely other priorities. I have paid to have this done for a family I was helping. They had asked for some help with a new tub (Aesthetic repair). When they also had roof leaks, water in the basement, crumbling front steps, rotted windows, etc. I helped them get their priorities straight and they are doing what they can, as they can.
What's the expression? Its like arranging deck chairs on the titanic. Or, Its like fixing a fireplace on the titanic!
Good luck
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
About the fireplace/chimney, I'd: 1) Consult with the one local professional you trust most about maybe doing: 2) Removing chimney, etc. down to hearth, 3) Replacing chimney with metal chimney of size suitable for 4) Woodstove sitting on hearth.
Woodstoves for some years have had to have EPA approval for emissions, are notably more efficient than in years past, and many/most have doors with _large_ glass viewing area. Fireplaces are _not_ for heating, but for ventilating, anyhow.
HTH, J
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Depends on the stove. You can get wood-burners with glass doors. And you can "repair" the chimney by running zero-clearance stovepipe up it, in which case, the brickwork is purely decorative.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

First of all, it sounds like you have a lot of more important work to worry about before the fireplace.
Second, most modern wood burning stoves and pre-fab fireplaces have "glass" doors so you can watch the flames. Several allow you to remove the doors and fit a spark screen instead. All are far more efficient for heating than an open fireplace.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dan_Musicant wrote:

Talk to "The Maine Wood Heat Co"
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Time and money can fix most anything. Any historical value? Your money so your call.

I have a Vermont Castings. While more efficient closed, I can burn it witht he doors open for nice atmosphere. I can also burn the logs down to nice hot coals and grill steaks on it.

At that age it may need work, but it is also possible to put a liner inside.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ed - I agree those VC stoves are nice. I have stayed at a cabin, dead of winter, -35deg PLUS 40mph wind, on top of a mountain. The cabin only had one Vermont Castings wood stove for heat. We needed to crack a window because it was too hot. (Only cracked it about 1/4" due to snow blowing in). I cant imagine grilling a steak on the thing though. Heat some water for tea or perculate a put of coffee, yes, but a steak? Seems too nice of a stove for that. We were in northern Vermont, Mt. washington visible in the distance on a clear day. Had to snow shoe in to cabin. Only had an out house. Your pee just about froze before it hit the mark!
The one we had in the cabin was like this... http://www.vermontcastings.com/content/products/productdetails.cfm?id 7
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
No wrote:

pancakes on many mornings.
http://www.green-trust.org/wiki/index.php?title=Wood_Heat
--
Steve Spence
Dir., Green Trust, http://www.green-trust.org
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.