Monday, July 6, 2009

Chimney Leaning away from house

If your chimney is pulling away from your home, there are things you should consider before deciding on how to repair your leaning chimney. Your chimney is most likely the heaviest portion per square foot of your home. The depth, width, and type of footing that the chimney sits on will vary based upon location and the builder. Most footings should be connected into the home's foundation, but some are not. So, when a house is built on expansive or unstable clay soils, the first part of the foundation to settle is typically the footing under the chimney. As a chimney settles, it starts to tilt away from the house. To determine the amount of settlement, one can look at the gap between the chimney and the house. It is usually greater at the top and smaller at the bottom.

When the chimney footing is sinking, it not only decreases the value of your home, it also creates a serious safety hazard. The weight of a chimney can cause faster settlement, and the problem usually becomes worse. There are many methods of repair, but only one is cost effective and a permanent solution.

Leaning Chimney Repair Methods

If you look to hire a contractor to fix your leaning chimney, you will probably hear several differing opinions. A contractor might tell you he will strap the chimney to the house with cables or steel straps to hold the chimney in place. This might sound good, but it is not. This does not address the problem of the footing settling, and will only result in the roof or framing structure "racking" towards the chimney. Some contractors will want to tear the whole thing down and build a new one. This is expensive, takes a long time, and is very invasive. It's also completely unnecessary.

The right contractor will address the actual problem and provide a solution of driving steel piers into the earth until adequate soil density is reached. Steel piers are minimally invasive. It's always cheaper to install steel piers than to rebuild a chimney. While it varies depending on your structure, usually chimney repairs with steel piers take a day or two.

If you need chimney repair due to a cracked, falling, or leaning chimney, please visit our Foundation Repair section on our website, or call us @ 877-409-2837. You can sign up online for a FREE CONSULTATION.

Thanks for reading the rambling thoughts of a foundation inspector,
Larry Ralph Jr.



  1. Larry, I recently went to a house up in the North Georgia mountains that had a stone chimney that was attached to a light wood frame house. The chimney sinking was actually causing the walls to crack, and the foundation (a short CMU subwall for a crawl space) to crack. The repair was simple, just as you described. Just a few steel piers. There was some pretty complex stuff proposed by other contractors though. Pretty funny really.


  2. Great thought...the chimney analysis was good.Cleaning well has to be thought about.

    Water Damage Tampa

  3. Appreciate you posting this. I have an offer on a home in SC that we just noticed the chimney coming away from the house. Never having had a fireplace (I live in Miami, need I say more)I wanted to try and find out the reasons this may be happening before the inspector comes out this week. I feel now I have some knowledge and insight to the problem. Now, to just find out how much this fix would cost me.

  4. Some excellent tips Larry!

    I have been hit twice in the past from cowboy builders and it has left me bitter.

    So know i try to find everything about a problem before paying someone to fix it.

    Your advice will help me in my endevour to find a good quality handyman!

  5. We have three chimneys in our home that were at one time or another used for furnace exhaust. There's a really old interior one (I am assuming it is the original 100+ years) that is not in very good shape and doesn't get used. there is a middle-aged one that has seen better days that we are currently using. there is a cinderblock one on the exterior of the house that looks like new but is at least 15 years old. It was the primary furnace chimney, but I don't know why the previous owner isn't using it now. It is leaning away from the house.

    Should I tear it down and restore the side of the house and keep using middle aged chimney? or should we reinforce new chimney and hook up our furnace to it? can the old chimneys be removed to the roof, capped off and/or roofed over?

    Know of any good guys in the Rochester area of ny?

  6. Mine has cracks, I'm afraid it will be leaning before long.

  7. Thanks for discussing the same.Yes the chimney is quite a heavy base and that leaning away from the home may cause problems to it.The methods discussed here must be helpful.

  8. My bungalow's chimney is about to lean, I am checking up on how to repair the foundation that has cracks and signs of falling. I also checked the soil stabilizing unit under the fireplace and it has piles of coal and dirt.
    Do you have any alternative procedures to repair cracked foundations?

  9. can anyone give me a rough idea of cost for this type of fix?


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