I need some advice. I am a drywall finisher and know very little about fireplaces/chimneys. I just bought a new house in which a bay window takes up one living room wall and a fireplace is centered in the middle of a second (outside) wall. I am very tempted to start ripping the fireplace apart, but my conscience keeps ruining my fun. What kind of trouble lies within? Is this a difficult task, or could a lay person like myself take care of it? I appreciate any info!
Fire place removal is extremely labor intesive, you start from the top and take it down piece by piece with a light (20-40lb.) electric breaker; scaffolding is the safest way; but in single-story structure two ladder jacks is fairly safe. (I can't describe some of the safety methods that I had to do working on constructing 500' radio towers when I was 23 and bullet proof, but let just say I strongly advocate using a little more equipment than just one ladder for this one.). Mortar comes apartr fairly easy, (unless it is poured concrete cmu or cinderblock wall, which is really labor intensive and requires bigger demolition equipment.
You should hit some sort of massive concrete footing at the base, and it may or may not be attached to the rest of the footing. It is definately quite a bit of work to remove the footing, and you have to make sure the structures' footing is not at all damaged in the removal (if it is connected to the rest of the footing, you should saw cut it first with a big (at least 14" cut off saw).
If you think you are getting over you head, I would suggest skim coating the fireplace with plaster and point or stamp joints to create faux concrete tiling, or hire someone who has experience, insurance, and equipment.