How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
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Why is the chimney tilted and leaning away from the house?
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
We see a leaning chimney occasionally, when the fireplace is on an exterior wall and is an older, masonry type (not manufactured). The foundation under the fireplace carries a tremendous, concentrated load due to the towering stack of bricks and the fireplace itself is separate from the wood-frame wall structure.
Soil erosion around the exterior of the house can cause the foundation pad under the fireplace to settle to one side, typically away from the house. Any slight tilt at the base causes a crack between the fireplace and adjoining house walls that widens as it goes up the wall. The opening is a place where rainwater can get into the wall and cause considerable damage over time.
We often see heavy caulking along the crack that is created by the settlement, and the caulk is also almost always separated from the wall a little because the settlement has continued since the caulking, like in photo above. Also, in the photo at the top of the page, the gap between the fireplace and adjacent wall was artfully concealed by a large piece of metal flashing running up the open crack. The only solution is for this problem is the installation of structural piers under the fireplace foundation pad. In many cases, the foundation repair company can jack the fireplace back into something close to its original position.
Also, see our blog post Why does the house have a chimney but no fireplace?
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