If you’ve recently bought a new property, or perhaps have been living in one with a boarded up fireplace for a while, and want to bring it back to life, there are a few things you’ll need to do.
Firstly, move as much furniture out of the room as possible, and cover everything you can’t move in dust sheets. If you can roll back the carpet, this is also advisable, as opening a chimney breast will be a messy job.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to remove the skirting board and while you’re doing that find the vent that should be in place just above it. Remove the vent and use a torch to get a look inside to see how big the fireplace opening is.
You should also have a hearth just in front of the fireplace. Hopefully lifting the carpet will have uncovered this slab set in the surrounding floorboards if it wasn’t already visible.
Next you need to work out if your fireplace is blocked up by a board, or by bricks. Tapping the wall and listening to the sound should be enough to figure this out. If the tap makes a hollow sound, it should be a board, so you need to find the edges of this and carefully remove it.
If the fireplace has been bricked up, work from the vent out to slowly and carefully remove the bricks. But make sure you have identified where the lintel is, so you know where to stop.
When you have an idea of the size of the opening, you can start shopping for an antique fireplace that will suit the age and character of your home.
And of course, before you finish the job and light a fire, make sure the chimney has been inspected and properly cleaned to ensure there are no obstructions and that it is suitable for use with an open fire.