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This article describes chimney inspection procedures and provides examples of potentially fatal chimney collapse hazards in earthquake zones. We include description and photos of chimney collapses during earthquakes.
In addition to the chimney movement and collapse hazards we discussed above, owners and inspectors in earthquake-prone areas need to consider the safety of their chimney and its ability to resist collapse during a temblor or earthquake.
Un reinforced chimneys often collapse during an earthquake. It's luck which way the collapsing chimney falls. In some cases the chimney falls into the structure, possibly killing the occupants below. In our photo (below left) the chimney happily fell away from the home and into the yard.
The photo of ten masonry chimneys all lined up in the street (above right) was taken by the author, D Friedman, in Northridge California after the Northridge Meadows earthquake in 1986.
The photos above show additional examples of earthquake damage to masonry chimneys. The chimney fell through the house at above left, luckily into the living room rather than a bedroom where people were sleeping, or it is possible that the occupants would have been crushed.
At above right an un reinforced stone chimney and stone house wall fell onto and crushed the automobile.
Other chimney collapse hazards can be frightening too, such as flues or chimneys collapsing trapping people working on them or simply someone who happened to be on a roof.
At above left we see two different extents of chimney damage at the Northridge California 1994 quake. The chimney projecting through the ridge of the roof collapsed onto the roof while an exterior wall chimney fell into the yard below. At above right, another home inspected by the author [DF], the entire building was shifted abouit 14" over its foundation. You can see the collapsed chimney in the center of the photograph. A chimney that falls into the home or through its roof is more likely to cause injury to occupants.
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 Arakida, Masaru. "Measuring vulnerability: The ADRC perspective for the theoretical basis and principles of indicator development." Measuring Vulnerability to Natural Hazards–towards disaster resilient societies, United Nations University Press, Tokyo (2006): 290-299.
 Comerio, Mary C. "Public policy for reducing earthquake risks: a US perspective." Building Research & Information 32, no. 5 (2004): 403-413.
 Kamat, Vineet R., and Sherif El-Tawil. "Evaluation of augmented reality for rapid assessment of earthquake-induced building damage." Journal of computing in civil engineering 21, no. 5 (2007): 303-310.
 Kovacs, Paul. Reducing the risk of earthquake damage in Canada: Lessons from Haiti and Chile. Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, 2010.
 Mills, Evan, Evan Mills, and Ivo Knoepfel. Energy-efficiency options for insurance loss prevention. Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1997.
 Noji, Eric K., and Keith T. Sivertson. "Injury prevention in natural disasters. A theoretical framework." Disasters 11, no. 4 (1987): 290-296.
 Peek-Asa, Coritme, Jess F. Kraus, Linda B. Bourque, Dushyanthi Vimalachandra, Jenny Yu, and Jackie Abrams. "Fatal and hospitalized injuries resulting from the 1994 Northridge earthquake." International Journal of Epidemiology 27, no. 3 (1998): 459-465.
 John Tagliabue, Parts of Low Country Are Now Quake Country", The New York Times, 27 March 2013, p. A6.
 "A Foundation for Unstable Soils," Harris Hyman, P.E., Journal of Light Construction, May 1995
 "Backfilling Basics," Buck Bartley, Journal of Light Construction, October 1994
 "Inspecting Block Foundations," Donald V. Cohen, P.E., ASHI Reporter, December 1998. This article in turn cites the Fine Homebuilding article noted below.
 Henry Fountain, "Experts Eye Oil and Gas Industry as Quakes Shake Oklahoma", The New York Times, 13 December 2013, p. A20, A23.
 Stein, Ross S. "The role of stress transfer in earthquake occurrence." Nature 402, no. 6762 (1999): 605-609. US Geological Survey, MS 977, Menlo Park, California 94025, USA , Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Lin, Jian, and Ross S. Stein. "Stress triggering in thrust and subduction earthquakes and stress interaction between the southern San Andreas and nearby thrust and strike‐slip faults." Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth (1978–2012) 109, no. B2 (2004).
 Parsons, Tom, Ross S. Stein, Robert W. Simpson, and Paul A. Reasenberg. "Stress sensitivity of fault seismicity: A comparison between limited‐offset oblique and major strike‐slip faults." Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth (1978–2012) 104, no. B9 (1999): 20183-20202.
 Toda, Shinji, Jian Lin, Mustapha Meghraoui, and Ross S. Stein. "12 May 2008 M= 7.9 Wenchuan, China, earthquake calculated to increase failure stress and seismicity rate on three major fault systems." Geophysical Research Letters 35, no. 17 (2008).
 Parsons, Tom, and Douglas S. Dreger. "Static‐stress impact of the 1992 Landers earthquake sequence on nucleation and slip at the site of the 1999 M= 7.1 Hector Mine earthquake, southern California." Geophysical research letters 27, no. 13 (2000): 1949-1952.
 King, G. C. P., and M. Cocco. "Fault interaction by elastic stress changes: New clues from earthquake sequences." Advances in Geophysics 44 (2001): 1-VIII.
 Toda, Shinji, and Ross Stein. "Toggling of seismicity by the 1997 Kagoshima earthquake couplet: A demonstration of time-dependent stress transfer." Journal of geophysical research 108, no. B12 (2003): 2567.
 Simpson, Robert W., and Paul A. Reasenberg. "Earthquake-induced static stress changes on central California faults." US Geol. Surv. Prof. Pap 55 (1994): 89.
 Cocco, Massimo, Concetta Nostro, and G. Ekström. "Static stress changes and fault interaction during the 1997 Umbria-Marche earthquake sequence." Journal of seismology 4, no. 4 (2000): 501-516.
 Zeng, Yuehua. "Viscoelastic stress‐triggering of the 1999 Hector Mine Earthquake by the 1992 Landers Earthquake." Geophysical research letters 28, no. 15 (2001): 3007-3010.
 Toda, Shinji, Jian Lin, and Ross S. Stein. "Using the 2011 M= 9.0 Tohoku earthquake to test the Coulomb stress triggering hypothesis and to calculate faults brought closer to failure." Earth Planets Space 63 (2011): 1-6.
 Freed, Andrew M. "Earthquake triggering by static, dynamic, and postseismic stress transfer." Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 33 (2005): 335-367. Quoting:
Earthquake triggering is the process by which stress changes associated with an earthquake can induce or retard seismic activity in the surrounding region or trigger other earthquakes at great distances. Calculations of static Coulomb stress changes associated with earthquake slip have proven to be a powerful tool in explaining many seismic observations, including aftershock distributions, earthquake sequences, and the quiescence of broad, normally active regions following large earthquakes. Delayed earthquake triggering, which can range from seconds to decades, can be explained by a variety of time-dependent stress transfer mechanisms, such as viscous relaxation, poroelastic rebound, or afterslip, or by reductions in fault friction, such as predicted by rate and state constitutive relations. Rapid remote triggering of earthquakes at great distances (from several fault lengths to 1000s of km) is best explained by the passage of transient (dynamic) seismic waves, which either immediately induce Coulomb-type failure or initiate a secondary mechanism that induces delayed triggering. The passage of seismic waves may also play a significant role in the triggering of near-field earthquakes.
Man-made earthquake strikes Christchurch
", The New Zealand Herald, 17 April 2012, Quoting:
Man-made earthquake strikes Christchurch
3:58 PM Tuesday Apr 17, 2012
A magnitude 4 earthquake is to strike Christchurch - but this one will be man-made. The "earthquake" struck at 11.30am, at QEII Stadium, at a depth of up to 12km. The jolt is part of tests by the Earthquake commission into whether liquefaction-prone land in the east of the city can be repaired. About 25 small underground explosives are to be placed up to 12 metres deep and set off to simulate an earthquake of about magnitude 4.
 William Ellsworth (email@example.com), Jessica Robertson (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Christopher Hook (703-648-4460), "Man-Made Earthquakes Update", USGS, 12 July 2013, retrieved 13 December 2013, original source: http://www.usgs.gov/blogs/features/usgs_top_story/man-made-earthquakes/
 Katie M. Keranen, Heather M. Savage, Geoffrey A. Abers and Elizabeth S. Cochran, "Potentially induced earthquakes in Oklahoma, USA: Links between wastewater injection and the 2011 Mw 5.7 earthquake", Geology, January 2013, retrieved 12/13/2013, original source: http://geology.gsapubs.org/content/early/2013/03/26/G34045.1.abstract
Quoting from the abstract:
Significant earthquakes are increasingly occurring within the continental interior of the United States, including five of moment magnitude (Mw) ≥ 5.0 in 2011 alone. Concurrently, the volume of fluid injected into the subsurface related to the production of unconventional resources continues to rise. Here we identify the largest earthquake potentially related to injection, an Mw 5.7 earthquake in November 2011 in Oklahoma. The earthquake was felt in at least 17 states and caused damage in the epicentral region. It occurred in a sequence, with 2 earthquakes of Mw 5.0 and a prolific sequence of aftershocks. We use the aftershocks to illuminate the faults that ruptured in the sequence, and show that the tip of the initial rupture plane is within ∼200 m of active injection wells and within ∼1 km of the surface; 30% of early aftershocks occur within the sedimentary section. Subsurface data indicate that fluid was injected into effectively sealed compartments, and we interpret that a net fluid volume increase after 18 yr of injection lowered effective stress on reservoir-bounding faults. Significantly, this case indicates that decades-long lags between the commencement of fluid injection and the onset of induced earthquakes are possible, and modifies our common criteria for fluid-induced events. The progressive rupture of three fault planes in this sequence suggests that stress changes from the initial rupture triggered the successive earthquakes, including one larger than the first.
 David J. Hayes, "Is the Recent Increase in Felt Earthquakes in the Central US Natural or Manmade?", David J. Hayes, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior, DOI News, retrievedf 12/13/2013, original source: http://www.doi.gov/ news/doinews/Is-the-Recent-Increase-in-Felt-Earthquakes -in-the-Central-US-Natural-or-Manmade.cfm
Defects and Deterioration in Buildings: A Practical Guide to the Science and Technology of Material Failure, Barry Richardson, Spon Press; 2d Ed (2001), ISBN-10: 041925210X, ISBN-13: 978-0419252108. Quoting: A professional reference designed to assist surveyors, engineers, architects and contractors in diagnosing existing problems and avoiding them in new buildings. Fully revised and updated, this edition, in new clearer format, covers developments in building defects, and problems such as sick building syndrome. Well liked for its mixture of theory and practice the new edition will complement Hinks and Cook's student textbook on defects at the practitioner level.
"Avoiding Foundation Failures," Robert Marshall, Journal of Light Construction, July, 1996 (Highly recommend this article-DF)
"When Block Foundations go Bad," Fine Homebuilding, June/July 1998
"Concrete Slab Finishes and the Use of the F-number System", Matthew Stuart, P.E., S.E., F.ASCE, online course at www.pdhonline.org/courses/s130/s130.htm
Sal Alfano - Editor, Journal of Light Construction*
Thanks to Alan Carson, Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, for technical critique and some of the foundation inspection photographs cited in these articles
Terry Carson - ASHI
Mark Cramer - ASHI
JD Grewell, ASHI
Duncan Hannay - ASHI, P.E. *
Bob Klewitz, M.S.C.E., P.E. - ASHI
Ken Kruger, P.E., AIA - ASHI
Bob Peterson, Magnum Piering - 800-771-7437 - FL*
Arlene Puentes, ASHI, October Home Inspections - (845) 216-7833 - Kingston NY
Greg Robi, Magnum Piering - 800-822-7437 - National*
Dave Rathbun, P.E. - Geotech Engineering - 904-622-2424 FL*
Ed Seaquist, P.E., SIE Assoc. - 301-269-1450 - National
Dave Wickersheimer, P.E. R.A. - IL, professor, school of structures division, UIUC - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture. Professor Wickersheimer specializes in structural failure investigation and repair for wood and masonry construction. * Mr. Wickersheimer's engineering consulting service can be contacted at HDC Wickersheimer Engineering Services. (3/2010)
*These reviewers have not returned comment 6/95
Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Mr. Cramer serves on the ASHI Home Inspection Standards. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com
John Cranor is an ASHI member and a home inspector (The House Whisperer) is located in Glen Allen, VA 23060. He is also a contributor to InspectApedia.com in several technical areas such as plumbing and appliances (dryer vents). Contact Mr. Cranor at 804-747-7747 or by Email: email@example.com
Home Inspection Education Home Study Courses - ASHI@Home Training 10-course program. Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Home Reference Book, a reference & inspection report product for building owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Home Reference eBook, an electronic version for PCs, the iPad, iPhone, & Android smart phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter inspectaehrb in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones.
Thanks to Luke Barnes for suggesting that we add text regarding the hazards of shared chimney flues. USMA - Sept. 2008.
NFPA #211-3.1 1988 -
Specific to chimneys, fireplaces, vents and solid fuel burning appliances.
NFPA # 54-7.1 1992 -
Specific to venting of equipment with fan-assisted combustion systems.
Gas Appliance Manufacturers' Association has prepared venting tables for
Category I draft hood equipped central furnaces as well as fan-assisted
combustion system central furnaces.
National Fuel Gas Code, an American National Standard, 4th ed. 1988 (newer edition is available) Secretariats, American Gas Association (AGA), 1515 Wilson Blvd., Arlington VA22209, and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Batterymarch Park, Quincy MA 02269. ANSI Z223.1-1988 - NFPA 54-1988. WARNING: be sure to check clearances and other safety guidelines in the latest edition of these standards.
Fire Inspector Guidebook, A Correlation of Fire Safety Requirements Contained in the 1987 BOCA National Codes, (newer edition available), Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), Country Club HIlls, IL 60478 312-799-2300 4th ed. Note: this document is reissued every four years. Be sure to obtain the latest edition.
Uniform Mechanical Code - UMC 1991, Sec 913 (a.) Masonry Chimneys,
refers to Chapters 23, 29, and 37 of the Building Code.
New York 1984 Uniform Fire
Prevention and Building Code, Article 10, Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Requirements
New York 1979 Uniform Fire Prevention & Building Code, The "requirement" for 8" of solid masonry OR for use of a
flue liner was listed in the One and Two Family Dwelling Code for New
York, in 1979, in Chapter 9, Chimneys and Fireplaces, New York 1979
Building and Fire Prevention Code:
"Top Ten Chimney (and related) Problems Encountered by One Chimney Sweep," Hudson Valley ASHI education seminar, 3 January 2000, contributed by Bob Hansen, ASHI
"Rooftop View Turns to Darkness," Martine Costello, Josh Kovner, New Haven Register, 12 May 1992 p. 11: Catherine Murphy was sunning on a building roof when a chimney collapsed; she fell into and was trapped inside the chimney until rescued by emergency workers.
"Chimneys and Vents," Mark J. Reinmiller, P.E., ASHI Technical Journal, Vol. 1 No. 2 July 1991 p. 34-38.
"Chimney Inspection Procedures & Codes," Donald V. Cohen was to be published in the first volume of the 1994 ASHI Technical Journal by D. Friedman, then editor/publisher of that publication. The production of the ASHI Technical Journal and future editions was cancelled by ASHI President Patrick Porzio. Some of the content of Mr. Cohen's original submission has been included in this more complete chimney inspection article: InspectAPedia.com/chimneys/Chimney_Inspection_Repair.php. Copies of earlier editions of the ASHI Technical Journal are available from ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors.
Natural Gas Weekly Update: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/ngw/ngupdate.asp Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government
US Energy Administration: Electrical Energy Costs http://www.eia.doe.gov/fuelelectric.html
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Or choose the The Home Reference eBook for PCs, Macs, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Android Smart Phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAEHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, have provided us with (and we recommend) Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates' Technical Reference Guide to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
NFPA 211 - 3-1.10 - Relining guide for chimneys
NFPA 211 - 3-2 - Construction of Masonry Chimneys
NFPA 211 - 3-3 - Termination Height for chimneys
NFPA 211 - 3-4 - Clearance from Combustible Material
NFPA 54 - 7-1 - Venting of Equipment into chimneys
Brick Institute of America - Flashing Chimneys
Brick Institute of America - Proper Chimney Crowns
Brick Institute of America - Moisture Resistance of Brick
American Gas Association - New Vent Sizing Tables
Chimney Safety Institute of America - Chimney Fires: Causes, Effects, Evaluation
National Chimney Sweep Guild - Yellow Pages of Suppliers