Crooked or askew chimneys might be spooky on a witch’s house or charming on a gingerbread house. But if it’s your chimney’s that’s tilting, it could be a sign of serious foundation problems.
Masonry chimneys are very heavy, and the weight is concentrated in a small area. To accommodate for the weight, the structure is built on a concrete footing called a “chimney pad.”
Problems with the pad may leave your chimney on unstable ground, resulting in tilting.
If the footing is undersized, it might not properly be able to handle the tower’s weight. The footing should be at least one foot thick and project six inches beyond the chimney on all sides.
If the footing pad is too shallow, the frost and thaw cycle in the ground beneath could cause the footing to settle unevenly.
When your foundation no longer has a steady bed of soil to rest on, gaps and voids can form beneath the footing.
Issues during the construction of the footing (such as a lack of reinforcement or improperly installed rebar) can cause the footings to crack.
A chimney is located in one of two main places in the home – the exterior or the interior.
Exterior chimneys run along an outside wall of the home. If there’s a gap between the house siding and the exterior chimney, it’s a good indication of leaning.
An exterior chimney may be attached to the house with metal straps for stability, but it’s still the footing pad holding it up.
Interior chimneys run through the inside of the home and emerge on the roof. You can look in your attic to see if the chimney is centered in its framed opening. If it’s not centered, then it’s leaning.
A tilted chimney can cause homeowners a variety of problems. Bricks could fall damaging your roof, home or vehicles or those of your neighbor’s. Even worse, loose bricks could fall and injure or maim a pedestrian.
Water, insects or other vermin can get in the gap where the masonry has pulled away from the siding.
If the structure’s movement has damaged the chimney liner, combustible gases may be leaking into the home.
Your chimney needs added support to stabilize and straighten the structure. This can be done with the installation of helical piers.
Our network of foundation specialists use helical piers Made in America by Earth Contact Products.
Helical piers almost look like a giant screw. It is installed with little interruption to your yard and home.
Helical piers will be able to support the load of your chimney. The job can be done in any type of weather and is usually completed in a short time.
If you notice your chimney leaning, tilting, cracking, or separating from your home, don’t ignore it. It might also help uncover other foundation problems you might be experiencing and save you money in the long run.