What Causes A Leaning Chimney?
In the past four decades of our business operation, we’ve handled a wide variety of chimney-related issues. Many of our service calls are simple annual inspections and chimney sweeps. Other calls are more complex repair issues, such as when a homeowner discovers they have a leaning chimney. There are four main reasons for a chimney to start leaning, ranging from construction-related issues to weathering.
Another common cause of a leaning chimney is problems with your masonry. This is one of the more common repairs Northeastern Chimney, LLC technicians perform. The freeze and thaw cycle can lead to cracks in the mortar and holes in your bricks. In addition, sulfur damage isn’t unheard of in homes where appliance vents tie into the chimney system. The oils and water that escape through this process don’t mix well with brick and mortar, eventually leading to the deterioration of the system — and a leaning chimney. A flue liner can help mitigate this issue and is something we recommend all chimneys have anyway.
Just like the walls of your house, your chimney needs a solid foundation (or footing). This is a layer of concrete at the base of your chimney that bears the weight of it all. Quite literally, there are thousands of pounds worth of materials pressing down on the foundation. It needs to be strong and supportive. And, as with your home, if the foundation begins to fail it will cause problems with the entire structure. Another construction issue is with older homes. Back then, installers didn’t utilize foundations. The chimney started at the ground, with the bottom bricks acting as the support. Even newer homes with a foundation often run into a problem where the installer made the footing too narrow or shallow. It should always be big enough to fully support the weight of the bricks, mortar, cap, and crown.
Water damage is one of the most common issues a homeowner will face. This can include leaky roofs, overflowing gutters and downspouts, and of course the aforementioned freeze-thaw issue common to the spring and fall here in Connecticut. How do they tie into a leaning chimney? Improper drainage. As water pools in different places around the home, whether due to roof issues or insufficient downspouts, it can cause cracks in both the foundation and masonry of your chimney. Eventually, the system will start to lean as a result of improper water drainage.
Over time, your house shifts. Those random creaks you hear, seemingly out of nowhere, are a natural part of the aging process. This is completely normal, however, depending on where the house shifts it can potentially cause a problem with your chimney. This is uncommon, but a possibility to be aware of. In addition, loose soil under the foundation can lead to shifts with the chimney. Like house shifts, this isn’t a common cause of a leaning chimney. Nevertheless, if all of the above have been ruled out it’s something that your Northeastern Chimney technician will look into for you.
A leaning chimney is a cause for concern
If you discover your chimney has started to lean, immediately stop using it. You should have the system inspected as soon as possible to prevent additional damage to it as well as your home.
Contact any one of our Northeastern Chimney, LLC team members today by calling 860-233-5770 or by reaching out to us on our website.