Chimneys can function effectively for many years if properly maintained. However, improperly maintained or constructed chimneys often start tilting in one direction. This is commonly caused by either destruction of the chimney’s masonry by moisture or problems with the chimney’s foundation, which is often a sign of improper construction. Unless the tilt is fixed by a qualified professional, it will continue to get worse until the chimney collapses. A chimney collapse can cause extensive structural damage to your home and can even endanger anyone inside the home. Read on to learn more about the common causes of a tilted chimney and how this problem can be fixed.
Moisture Can Cause Chimney Tilt
Moisture often caused chimneys to start tilting. This is especially common for people who live in rainy or snowy climates. One of the most important aspects of chimney maintenance is keeping moisture out of the chimney’s masonry. If this maintenance is either not performed or performed improperly, your chimney can be damaged by moisture.
Water expands when it freezes and contracts when it melts. This back-and-forth movement will damage the bricks in your chimney if moisture has gotten inside the masonry. If you notice that the surfaces of the bricks in your chimney are flaking off (a process known as “spalling”), this is an indicator that moisture is destroying your chimney from the inside out. You must contact a chimney repair company immediately to avoid a catastrophic collapse when you notice spalling.
Another indicator that moisture is damaging your chimney is dislodged flashing. Flashing is a metal covering that goes around the chimney stack to keep moisture and debris out of the masonry. If you notice that this metal covering is loose, it could be letting moisture into the bricks of your chimney.
Foundation Problems Can Also Cause Chimney Tilt
The second common reason that chimneys start tilting is due to problems with their foundations. As previously mentioned, chimney foundation problems can be caused by improper maintenance or improper construction.
If you notice that your chimney is tilting and you call a chimney repair company, they will take a look at the chimney’s foundation to see if this is the cause of the problem. If your chimney is built into the side of the house but there is a gap between its foundation and the house, this can cause tilting. It is common for homeowners to fill these gaps with mortar. However, this is only a temporary solution. The mortar will quickly begin to erode, leaving the gap to grow larger. Some homeowners will even use metal straps to hold a leaning chimney in place. Again, this is only a temporary solution. If you notice that the previous homeowners used metal straps or mortar to hold a leaning chimney in place, you have to get the chimney professionally repaired before the temporary fix fails and it collapses.
What to Do If Your Chimney is Tilted
If your chimney is tilting, immediate chimney repair is necessary. It is not a good idea to attempt to repair your chimney yourself. If your chimney is leaning noticeably, it can only be fixed by a professional. Please keep in mind that chimney repair is very dangerous for people who do not have the proper training, experience, and tools for the job.