What’s Causing My Chimney Bricks To Start Leaning?
It’s not a good sign when you look up at the chimney and notice it leaning away from your house. It’s no optical illusion, and it is a dangerous situation. Depending on its size, a brick chimney can weigh over 8,500 pounds. It is secured to the foundation and attached to the roofline. But when structural issues develop with your home or chimney, the force of gravity can cause it to collapse under its weight resulting in severe property damage and potential injuries.
Inspect the foundation
A leaning chimney is often an indication of a severe structural problem. And the best place to start is with the foundation. There are several issues that can affect the foundation. For example, heavy rains, flooding, water leaks, and even pests can cause the soil under and around your foundation to soften and erode.
As the foundation continues to sink into the ground, it can cause the chimney to lean. Depending on the extent of the damage, the foundation may be able to be repaired without having to rebuild the entire chimney.
Missing bricks and mortar
Although bricks are durable, they are porous material and are very susceptible to water damage. Brick chimneys have a hard outer shell. But pounding rain, sleet, and snow can cause tiny cracks in the surface. Water accumulates inside these cracks, freezes, and expands the breaks even further. This cycle can repeat for years resulting in entire pieces of brick and mortar to erode and disappear from the chimney. It can also ruin the interior components, including the damper, smoke shelf, and firebox. In severe cases, deteriorating bricks and mortar can cause the structure to lean or even collapse.
Flashing is a metal material used to secure the chimney to the roofline. It also prevents moisture from penetrating the seams along the roof and chimney. When the chimney flashing is damaged, you may notice water stains on the walls and ceiling around the fireplace or heating stove. If not repaired timely, the continued water intrusion can accelerate the deterioration of the masonry and cause it to lean.
Repairing a leaning chimney
Leaning chimneys are a severe issue. It would be best to repair it sooner than later. Also, you should avoid using your fireplace or wood stove with a leaning chimney. The increased risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning can be disastrous. It’s vital to consult with a qualified chimney professional as soon as possible. They may be able to save your chimney from a complete collapse.