How to open a sealed up fireplace?

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knightrider
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How to open a sealed up fireplace?

Post by knightrider » Sun Oct 21, 2018 2:26 pm

Our fireplace was sealed shut with caulk by the previous owner. They never used it so wanted it sealed up. We want to start using it now. Any suggestions for how to cut the caulk?

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Last edited by knightrider on Sun Oct 21, 2018 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dottie57
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Re: How to open a sealed up fireplace?

Post by Dottie57 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 2:28 pm

Any idea why it was sealed? Problems?

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runner9
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Re: How to open a sealed up fireplace?

Post by runner9 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 2:36 pm

Caulk alone isn't very strong. If that's all that's holding in a puddy knife should get it started. For sure I'd have it inspected/serviced by a chimney sweep before using.

mouses
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Re: How to open a sealed up fireplace?

Post by mouses » Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:20 pm

I'm not sure what I'm looking at here. Is it a wood panel caulked to the fireplace? If so, I would try carefully running the point of a linoleum knife through the caulk.

123
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Re: How to open a sealed up fireplace?

Post by 123 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:41 pm

I would be very concerned about why it was sealed. Of course there could always be a simple explanation, like having young kids and decidng it was easier not to use it. Or there could be more ominous reasons, like cracked chimney, cracked firebox, weak mortar, water leaks, or absence of an operating flue. Since a fireplace is generally considered to be an asset to a house it would seem somewhat weird to leave it sealed during the sale process.

Edited to add:
Okay, let's make it interesting. Maybe there is treasure in the sealed up fireplace.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

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birdog
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Re: How to open a sealed up fireplace?

Post by birdog » Mon Oct 22, 2018 3:07 am

Cut the caulk with a knife, simple as that.

mouses
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Re: How to open a sealed up fireplace?

Post by mouses » Mon Oct 22, 2018 5:01 am

123 wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:41 pm
I would be very concerned about why it was sealed. Of course there could always be a simple explanation, like having young kids and decidng it was easier not to use it. Or there could be more ominous reasons, like cracked chimney, cracked firebox, weak mortar, water leaks, or absence of an operating flue. Since a fireplace is generally considered to be an asset to a house it would seem somewhat weird to leave it sealed during the sale process.
I stuffed a sheet of foam into the chimney in my previous house, because there was a wicked draft from it.

forgeblast
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Re: How to open a sealed up fireplace?

Post by forgeblast » Mon Oct 22, 2018 6:37 am

I would have it checked out by a professional before you start using it. there could be something nesting in there, from bees to bats, even squirrel nests. And you want to make sure there are no cracks in the liner, or you may need to put in a new liner. My neighbors house burned down because there was a small crack that made a small hole in his chimney. He was lucky to make it out.

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jharkin
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Re: How to open a sealed up fireplace?

Post by jharkin » Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:03 am

123 wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:41 pm
I would be very concerned about why it was sealed. Of course there could always be a simple explanation, like having young kids and decidng it was easier not to use it. Or there could be more ominous reasons, like cracked chimney, cracked firebox, weak mortar, water leaks, or absence of an operating flue. Since a fireplace is generally considered to be an asset to a house it would seem somewhat weird to leave it sealed during the sale process.
Lots of people just don't like fireplaces. I don't get it myself, but its true. We live in an 18th century antique (with a lot of fireplaces) and we like old homes and toured lots of 18th/19th/early 20th century houses with lots of fireplaces and you would be amazed at how many we saw sealed up, bricked in, or just plain ripped out. When central heat was invented many old houses had fireplaces closed up as they where just not needed, and lots of people even today wither will decide they just don't want the mess... or find out that the chimney needs expensive repairs and decide its not worth the cost and just seal it.

knightrider
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Re: How to open a sealed up fireplace?

Post by knightrider » Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:14 am

birdog wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 3:07 am
Cut the caulk with a knife, simple as that.
Unfortunately I have had no luck using a box cutter blade. Perhaps I need to use a pointed craft knife. I am beginning to wonder if there is more than just caulk holding it shut? Perhaps some nails?

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birdog
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Re: How to open a sealed up fireplace?

Post by birdog » Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:20 am

There appears to be an outer trim piece around the main board. Can those be pried away from the main board? Perhaps those are hiding nails or screws that are securing the main board to the fireplace?

Smoke
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Re: How to open a sealed up fireplace?

Post by Smoke » Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:57 am

If it's just caulk, and nothing is flammable, whatever the board is made of. You can try heating the caulk gently with a hair drier or a propane torch. (CAREFULLY)
Just heat it don't cook it. It will soften and remove easier. Works on old bathtub caulk as well.

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MP123
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Re: How to open a sealed up fireplace?

Post by MP123 » Mon Oct 22, 2018 10:18 pm

knightrider wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:14 am
birdog wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 3:07 am
Cut the caulk with a knife, simple as that.
Unfortunately I have had no luck using a box cutter blade. Perhaps I need to use a pointed craft knife. I am beginning to wonder if there is more than just caulk holding it shut? Perhaps some nails?
It might be glued on with construction adhesive, who knows?

The face appears to be tile so I doubt there's nails in it.

You could always drill a starter hole and use a Sawzall /jigsaw/keyhole saw to cut out an opening in what appears to be a piece of plywood or similar that covers the opening. Then you could use a pry bar or putty knife to remove the rest once you inspect the situation.

DanEmmy
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Re: How to open a sealed up fireplace?

Post by DanEmmy » Mon Oct 22, 2018 10:25 pm

Absolutely have a pro in to inspect it before using it. There are dozens of things that can go terribly wrong with an ill-kept fireplace and chimney.

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