Wondering “Why is My Chimney Leaning?”
Have you been compelled to make an online search for an answer to the question, “Why is my chimney leaning?” If so, we have some answers for you. The first thing you need to know is that whatever the cause, a tilting chimney can be very dangerous. In addition, whatever expenses are already necessary to fix the problem could increase even more if you don’t address the issue right away.
If your leaning chimney is on an outside wall, a gap may have developed between your house and the exterior chimney. It is not unusual for homeowners to apply temporary fixes, such as adding metal straps intended to hold the chimney in place. Some homeowners fill the gap with caulk, mortar, or foam insulation. These are not true solutions. Instead, they simply mask a serious problem that needs to be properly addressed.
Causes of a leaning chimney
Chimney masonry weighs tons, and the weight is concentrated in a small area. Before a chimney is constructed, concrete footing or a chimney pad must be built, to prevent the structure from sinking. Concrete footing often fails, and the following are a few causes:
· If the footing is not of an adequate size, it can fail. Anything smaller than the following guideline can result in the collapse of a chimney: The footing must be a minimum of 1 foot thick, and it should extend 6 inches further out than the chimney on every side.
· The soil underneath the chimney pad can be the cause of failed footing. If the soil is loose or if it expands and contracts with water, it is not a type of soil that can bear the weight of a chimney. Also, if the ground underneath the chimney pad expands and contracts due to freezing and thawing, it can weaken the footing.
· Deterioration can result in an unstable chimney pad. Causes of deterioration include: The concrete footing cracks due to freezing and thawing cycles or the rebar reinforcement is improperly installed, resulting in cracking of the concrete.
How to determine whether your chimney is leaning
Some chimneys are intentionally designed to tilt, as a way of making a home look more symmetrical. In this type of circumstance, if your mortar joints are level, you know the chimney was simply built that way. If you are unsure whether your chimney is leaning, here are a few things you can look for that indicate instability in the chimney structure:
· If your chimney is installed in the interior of your home, check in the attic to see whether the framed opening is centered. If it appears there is more pressure on one side of the opening than the other, the chimney is leaning.
· If the flashing on your chimney is dislodged, it is a good indication that your chimney masonry is shifting.
· Use a long level to check whether the chimney is vertical in two planes and horizontal in two planes; if it is not, the chimney is probably leaning and in need of repair.
What to do if your chimney is leaning
Contact us at Chimney Solutions if your chimney is leaning or if you are unsure of the condition of your chimney and need an inspection done. Our trained and certified chimney technicians can provide reliable services such as chimney restorations, chimney rebuilds, masonry repair, and more. When masonry work is needed on a chimney, it’s important that a chimney professional perform repairs and rebuilds, since they understand the operation of the chimney system from top to bottom. Get the info you need about inspections, repair and cleaning for your fireplace and chimney by calling (770) 691-6707.