There is a fireplace on the north exterior wall of our current family (which will become a dining room after the remodel. The wall has brick veneer on it and has an elevated hearth made of concrete with colored stone aggregate in it. It’s all very 1970s.

I am going to demolish the brick veneer wall and hearth. But before I do that, I need to go into the basement to see how the hearth is supported. The architectural drawings show that the foundation of the house has a bump-out around the chimney, meaning there should be a fireplace in the basement. But the north exterior wall of the basement is smooth. There is no fireplace or recess.

I demolished the wall in the basement, and lo-and-behold, there is a hidden cavity behind the drywall. Part of the cavity is hidden by a brick veneer wall with a 10-inch hole. Inside the cavity is an 8-inch flue that rises from the basement to the roof. The bottom of the flue has a 90-degree elbow. The flue is not capped, nor is it lined. So cold air just blows out of it, into the cavity. (That can’t be good for the heating bill.) The flue pipe is held in place with metal bands screwed into the concrete. All of the metal is rusted and all the pieces are loose, letting in cold air and water.

I’m not sure what to do about this mess, so I’m leaving it for now. Eventually, I will need to demolish all of this, haul it out, seal it up and insulate it. I also need to inspect the rain cap on the roof.

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Fireplace flue hidden in basement. Photos by George Taniwaki

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