Because your chimney is the heaviest portion of your home, there is a lot of weight for such a small area. If your foundation or soil isn’t stable, your chimney will start to lean or bricks can crack. Chimney brick cracks are a sign that you have a house settlement problem.
House settling happens when the ground under your home becomes weakened and is unable to support the weight of your home and foundation. Too much water, poor drainage, a dry and hot summer or poor soil preparation by the home’s builder can all weaken soil and cause house settling.
There cracked bricks or leaning chimney indicate that you need to have your foundation evaluated for repairs. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can just patch the cracks or have to demolish your chimney. Your chimney can be saved; you just need the help of a foundation repair expert!
Keep in mind that structural issues with your chimney are often connected to other potentially serious foundation problems. The same problems that caused your chimney to lean and show signs of failure can apply equally to your foundation.
Some contractors recommend tying the chimney to the house, called chimney strapping, however, that doesn’t address the underlying foundation issue and can result in your chimney pulling the part of your home that it is strapped to – forcing the house to lean even more and creating large, ugly brick cracks and gaps on your home’s facade.
- Leaning or tilting of the chimney
- Cracks where the chimney foundation meets the home foundation
- Damage to the roof where flashing meets the chimney
- Gaps between the chimney and home walls that have been filled in with mortar, foam, or caulk.
A Word Of Warning: filling in the void between your house and chimney is not the answer!
Many homeowners will have the void filled with masonry, foam, caulk, or some other material. This is a temporary fix only — and it’ll have to be removed when the real repair is done.
To repair a tilting chimney, we at Brackett Foundation recommend stabilizing it with a helical pile system. These foundation piles include a helical blade that allows the piles to be driven (or “screwed”) deep into the ground to stronger supporting soils.
Once driven into the ground, the bracket is attached to the helical pile and mounted on the footing of your chimney’s foundation. Once installed, the helical pile can even be used to attempt to return your chimney to its original position.