If you have a blocked-up fireplace in your home, you may wish to open it up and install a gorgeous wood burning stove to really make the most of this lovely feature. This should be a fairly straightforward - if messy - procedure; however, if in doubt, always seek advice from an expert.

Chimney breast

If your chimney has been correctly blocked up, you should be able to see a vent in the relevant wall Carefully remove this and examine the opening using a torch. This will give you a good idea of what you are working with.

Take the skirting board off

You will either need to remove the whole length of skirting or a neat section.

Check the hearth

The hearth is the solid piece of raised floor just in front of the chimney. It is often made from concrete. Check this to ensure it is sound.

Board or brick?

If you hear a hollow sound when you tap the wall, you can be pretty certain your fireplace is covered with board. This should be fairly simple to prise off. On the other hand, if it has been filled in using bricks, these will need to be carefully knocked out. Go cautiously, starting from the bottom and working upwards from left to right

Brickwork

Bring the bricks right back to the border of the original fireplace opening and then make good any of the joints that require it, both at the side and back.

Ta-da!

Your fireplace is revealed! Now you can take a close look to see what sort of condition it is in. If the fireback is cracked, this can be repaired with specialist cement.

Draught

You will need to check your chimney’s draught by placing a lit candle just in front of it. It is essential that flames and smoke are drawn efficiently up the chimney. If this is not the case, your chimney may have been deliberately capped, or might be blocked. This will need to be actioned before you go any further.

Chimney and flue

Before putting in a new grate or fireback, you will need to get the chimney professionally swept. You must also ensure that your flue is in good working order.

Professional checks

Before you light a fire for the very first time, whether in a newly opened fireplace or a newly-installed one, always get a professional to check that it is safe and sound.