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1890's home with chimneys above windows

We recently purchased a 1896 farmhouse in eastern Ontario. During our home inspection the inspector mentioned chimneys above the windows. Can anyone provide more information about this? There is a small chimney above our bedroom window that we can see when inside the attic, however, the box on the inside of the bedroom has been covered with drywall. We understand that these were used to heat the bedroom....


Re: 1890's home with chimneys above windows

It's quite common to find fireplaces covered in older homes. Open fire places are terribly inefficient and the old ones were not lined and probably in non usable state of repair. As modern furnaces were installed, they were covered or sealed to cut down on down drafts and heat loss up the chimneys. It was much cheaper and less labor to seal or cover than remove. More than likely, if you decide to open them they will need a significant amount for work to put them into safe usable condition, but only a professional inspection can say for sure.

Re: 1890's home with chimneys above windows

I think I need to re-word that. It's not chimneys above the window is more of a brick box. About 20 inches wide, 12 inches in the bedroom and another 12 inches in the attic. It doesn't actually have a chimney opening at the top. Could it have been a coal box?

Re: 1890's home with chimneys above windows

Can you see a patch in the roof deck above these brick boxes/chimneys? (Look up from the inside of the attic. You won't likely detect a patch from the outside of the roof)

Around these parts (NW Illinois), there are many old houses that had these "stub" chimneys. This house had four of those; one in each corner room of the house.

Basically, it worked like this - There would be multiple small wood or coal burning stoves on the ground floor of the house (including the kitchen stove). Certain 1st floor rooms could then be closed off and not heated when not being used...to save on fuel. The flue pipes from these stoves passed thru the ceiling (floor of the upstairs rooms) so that the heat radiating off these pipes when the stove was being used ...would add heat to the room upstairs. The pipe then terminated into a "stub" brick chimney (just as you describe) in the upstairs room of the house. This may be what you're looking at.

IME, complete removal of the brick chimney is the best way to go because....a chimney that is just knocked down below the roof and the rest left in place will chill from the cold air in the attic during the winter months and then condensation forms on the portion down inside the heated part of the house. This raises havoc with paint or wallpaper on the drywall, plaster, plywood or whatever...applied over the remaining brick chimney. Covering the brick with a layer of rigid foam board before applying the drywall would likely prevent the condensation, but removal is still best IMO...even if a messy job to do. Once it's gone...it's gone for good. I suspect the odds of you ever using it again for its original purpose or any good purpose... is likely nill.

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