If your Chimney is Tilted or Pulling Away from your House, Look Out!
Is your chimney leaning or pulling away from your house? Please exercise caution because it could fall and seriously injury someone, in addition to causing costly damage. A leaning chimney is not a rare occurrence, though there is only one leaning tower of Pisa. There are many possible reasons for a tilting chimney or one that pulls away from an exterior wall. The best way to avoid ever having to deal with a chimney on the verge of collapse is to have annual chimney inspections done and schedule all building and repair work with fireplace experts. Once this type of damage is detected, immediate repair and possibly a rebuild is needed.
Signs of a leaning chimney
It’s not always completely obvious, when a chimney structure begins to crumble. There are even some chimneys that are purposefully built to lean, and reasons include trying to correct a fireplace built off-center and creating symmetry in a home’s appearance. If you are unsure whether your chimney is leaning, check to see whether mortar joints are level. If they are, the chimney was built that way intentionally. The following are signs that you have a leaning chimney in need of immediate attention:
- Between your home and an exterior chimney, there is a gap. Many homeowners have tried do-it-yourself remedies, such as attaching a metal strap in order to shore up the structure. None of these types of solutions are adequate. To avoid further damage or injury, call a chimney professional who also does masonry work.
- Flashing on the roof becomes dislodged. This can be a sign that the chimney has settled, due to an unstable foundation.
- If your fireplace and chimney are within your home’s interior, the best way to check on whether or not the chimney is leaning is through the attic. If the chimney is centered in the frame opening, that’s a good sign. If more pressure is on one side of the opening than the other, the chimney is leaning.
Reasons a chimney leans or pulls away from your house
Chimneys weigh tons, with all of that weight concentrated over a very small area. The concrete footing or chimney pad for a chimney must be built according to specific guidelines, in order to provide a secure foundation. The chimney pad can fail for the following reasons and more, causing a chimney to lean:
- The concrete footing underneath the chimney can deteriorate for a number of reasons. Cracking can occur as a result of improperly installed or missing rebar or due to moisture in the footing affected by freeze and thaw cycles.
- The soil underneath the footing can be the cause of a chimney pad fail. Some types of soil are very loose and therefore expand and contract; such soils are not suitable to bear a chimney’s weight.
- There are specifications which must be followed, as far as the size of a chimney pad. If the footing is too small, the result can be an unstable, leaning chimney.
What to do if your chimney is leaning
If your chimney is pulling away from your home or if it’s leaning, contact chimney experts as soon as possible. Oftentimes, it’s possible to repair rather than replace a deteriorating chimney. Be sure the work is done by chimney professionals who understand the top-to-bottom operation of a fireplace and can provide best possible results. You can reach us by phone at (608) 929-4887.