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Dealing with a Leaning Chimney

It can be unnerving to go outside and look up at your chimney and discover that it’s leaning to the side. Chimneys shouldn’t lean, right? No, they shouldn’t, and if yours is, it’s a situation you should address immediately.

Ye Olde Brit Chimney Sweep of San Bernardino, CA, would like to tell you a little about what causes chimneys to lean, what can be done about it, and what can happen if the problem is ignored.

damaged chimney structure in Yucaipa CAWhat makes a chimney lean?

Here are the main causes.

Poor construction

An improperly built chimney won’t be strong and hold up well through the years. Cheap bricks and mortar compounds used in the construction will only add to the problem.

Masonry damage

Even the best-built chimneys will eventually have some masonry damage. Bricks crack and mortar crumbles, and this can lead to instability and a leaning chimney.

Footing issues

Chimney footings that are less than a foot thick and extend less than six inches to all sides of the chimney structure can easily become unstable. Even correctly constructed footings won’t last forever. Older chimneys often weren’t built with any kind of footing, which is a problem in the making.

Soil issues

Even with a great footing, soil issues can cause a chimney to shift and lean. Soil displacement, erosion and normal ground shifting can all lead to problems at the bottom of the chimney.

Before the collapse . . .

Obviously, a chimney collapse is something you want to avoid at all costs. But before a chimney falls, other problems are likely to happen and need to be dealt with.

A leaning chimney is susceptible to water leaks if the bricks and mortar start to crack and if the flashing breaks away and opens a path for intruding water.

Pressure from a leaning chimney can cause damage to the roof structure, which can lead to extensive water leaks in unseen areas of the home.

Chimney leaks can end up causing significant problems, including:

  • Ongoing masonry damage
  • Damage to the chimney liner
  • Rusting of the fireplace damper
  • Damage to the firebox
  • Roof damage
  • Damage to walls, ceilings, floors and the attic

How to address a leaning chimney

If your chimney is leaning, the first step toward a solution is a proper inspection. Depending on the type and extent of the damage, other professionals may be brought in, but you want to start with an inspection.

Poor construction or masonry damage

If either of these are causing the instability, parts or all of your chimney may need to be rebuilt with top-quality bricks and mortar.

Footing issues

There are a variety of ways to address damaged chimney footings, including the use of stabilizing push piers and helical piers. If there’s no footing at all, your chimney contractor can discuss options with you.

Soil issues

If there’s loose, weak soil at the base of your chimney, the soil can be replaced to provide a more solid foundation.

preventing a leaning chimney in Covina CAPrevention is the best cure

The best way to deal with a leaning chimney is to not let it start to lean in the first place. This is accomplished through annual chimney inspections, timely chimney repairs and proper chimney sweeping. Annual services like these will prevent many of the problems that lead to leaning chimneys.

The care your chimney needs

Ye Olde Brit is here to help with all your chimney issues, from masonry repair and footing work to licensed inspections and chimney sweeping. If your chimney is leaning, or if you want to make sure it doesn’t, call us at (909) 880-2120. You can also reach out with our handy contact form.

Please Choose a Certified Chimney Sweep!

We hold the designation of Certified Chimney Professional (CCP)
We are GSCSG (Golden State Chimney Sweep Guild) Certified
We’re also proud members of the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG)
Trust a State Licensed Contractor (#775386)
We’re here to help with all your chimney repair