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.