Leaning Chimney: Causes, Response & Repair

Leaning chimneys are clear signs of structural defect and pose serious risks when ignored. Such chimneys aren’t built that way but become defective due to several underlying reasons which will be mentioned shortly.

So, if your chimney is leaning, what do you do?

You need to act. However, knowing what to do is crucial and saves you a great deal of stress. We’ll be discussing various aspects relating to slanted chimneys and most importantly how to address such defects.

You should find this article very informative and interesting.

Why Would A Chimney Lean?

Whenever a chimney is observed to be leaning, it’s because of one or more underlying issues.

Now, it’s necessary to indicate that chimneys are the external extensions that project from within the building (fireplace) through the roof. These are meant to stand erect.

However, when a chimney begins to lean, it’s a sign of a problem that needs to be urgently addressed.

To solve such problems, the root cause(s) will need to be identified. Some possible reasons for a leaning chimney include sulfur damage, foundational construction flaws, and a badly built chimney.

Other possible reasons include the absence of footing, masonry damage, no footing reinforcement, and house-settling. Not explaining each of these reasons will only provide a faint idea of what they are.

As such, let’s consider each of the above reasons as follows;

  • Sulfur Damage

Whenever you spot a major chimney defect such as one that leans, one of the first things you’ll need to know is what the cause(s) are. A possible reason is sulfur damage.

This is mostly seen in situations where oil appliances are steadily used.

As such chimneys vent the gases out, sulfur contained within the oil mixes with water forming sulfuric acid. Now, when condensation occurs, this corrosive acid steadily takes its toll on the mortar.

This results in damage due to swelling.

Now, this can be quite challenging to observe for smaller or shorter chimneys. However, the opposite is true for taller chimneys as they’re seen to be clearly leaning sideways.

  • Flaws with Foundation

Foundations serve as a base upon which structures are built. This applies to chimneys. A faulty chimney foundation is bound to fail as it bears a great deal of weight. This wouldn’t be an issue if it was well built.

Such flaws are worsened during extreme weather conditions like winters.

Freeze-and-thaw cycles take their toll as they disintegrate chimney foundations. With such problems, it’s only a matter of time before your chimney begins to lean. This may topple or crumble when left unattended.

  • Badly Built Chimney

It’s important when building a structure to use the services of professional masons. Badly built chimneys result when the job isn’t given to reputable and experienced hands.

Plus, there could be issues with inferior building supplies like bricks and mortar.

  • Absence of Footing

Quite many older buildings have been found to have no cement chimney footing. While these chimneys served for some time, the absence of footing begins to take its toll with chimneys leaning sideways.

This is a problem that needs to be urgently addressed to save your structure.

  • Damage to Masonry

Old structures are likely to get worn-out with bricks decayed.

All sorts of issues come up under this scenario including missing brick or mortar sections. Such gradual disintegration eventually results in a leaning chimney.

  • Absence of Footing Reinforcement

Reinforcements are vital when constructing structural footings. Chimneys having no footing reinforcements are bound to disintegrate. The common sign of this is a leaning chimney.

So, whenever you notice your chimney leaning, this could be a possibility.

  • House-Settling

It’s normal for buildings to settle over time. This is a gradual and almost unnoticeable event that always occurs. Now, the problem here is that certain structures like the chimney could fail during settling.

Luckily, this situation doesn’t always affect chimneys.

Call for Professional Inspections

If you’ve noticed your chimney leaning, you’ll need to find out exactly what the problem is. A professional chimney service or chimney sweep will provide you with all the assistance you need.

Should you buy a house with a leaning chimney? You’ll need professional inspections to identify the root cause(s) and estimate repair costs.

What To Do Upon Noticing A Slanting Chimney

Before a chimney service arrives, you’re expected to take certain actions to prevent further deterioration.

First, discontinue the use of your fireplace. The reason is simple. A cracked and leaning chimney is likely to leak gases into your home.

As such, you’re exposed to greater risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. Having stopped its use, wait for the technician to recommend the best line of action to take.

Can Leaning Chimneys Be Fixed?

Yes, they can! Leaning chimneys can be resolved in many ways.

First, the likelihood of fixing a leaning chimney lies in its condition. In situations where the foundation and footing reinforcements are non-existent or damaged, chimney services may provide corrective repairs.

Corrective repairs involve the use of steel or helical piers. These pieces of equipment are installed underneath your home to lift or correct the chimney structure.

Such tools (helical or steel piers) are built for correcting such structural defects.

Intrusive Repairs

Unlike chimney repair strategies that involve the use of steel piers to adjust a leaning chimney, intrusive repairs are quite different.

As the name suggests, this involves tearing down the faulty area and rebuilding it from scratch.

Here, heavy tools are used and professional masons are contracted for the job.  It’s important to note that this method is quite costly as it involves a lot of teardown and rebuilding.

Never Delay in Getting Help

A leaning chimney is simply a disaster waiting to happen. You must call to have it fixed or rebuilt before it topples over or crumbles. The best way to handle such situations is by scheduling regular inspections.

Such inspections help a great deal to detect and fix problems as early as possible.

If you’ve read to this point, then you may have learned a thing or two about leaning chimneys. These are defects that happen due to several factors (some of which have been provided above).

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