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CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR
BACKDRAFTING HEATING EQUIPMENT
CARBON MONOXIDE - CO
CHIMNEY COMPONENT DEFINITIONS
CHIMNEY FIRE ACTION / PREVENTION
COMBUSTION GASES & PARTICLE HAZARDS
COMBUSTION PRODUCTS & IAQ
FLAME COLOR, BLUE vs YELLOW COMBUSTION
HEATING SYSTEM INSPECTION
HOME HEATING SAFETY
ODORS & SMELLS DIAGNOSIS & CURE
SAFETY RECALLS CHIMNEYS VENTS HEATERS
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING EXTERIORS
WOOD, COAL STOVES & FIREPLACES
WOOD STOVE SAFETY
This article describes chimney inspection procedures and critical chimney defects which can be observed from outdoors at ground level. We begin with the detection of chimney movement, its causes, its symptoms. These articles continue with other chimney defects that can be found by visual inspection from outdoors at ground level, then from an on-roof inspection, followed by indoor inspections and ending with chimney-flue interior inspections.
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These articles on chimneys and chimney safety provide detailed suggestions describing how to perform a thorough visual inspection of chimneys for safety and other defects. Chimney inspection methods and chimney repair methods are also discussed.
Masonry chimneys represent a heavy concentrated load on the soil or support structure. Therefore, proper footing support is critical and is generally separated from the building footings except possibly at the exterior wall.
It should not come as a surprise that some masonry chimneys are constructed with an inadequate footing, or no supporting footing whatsoever. Future settlement, movement, tipping, or separation of the chimney from the building is certainly likely in such installations.
We provide a series of articles on diagnosing chimney cracks and movement include Chimney Movement - Causes, then Chimney Movement - Ongoing vs Static where we describe determining whether chimney movement is ongoing. Readers diagnosing chimney movement and foundation problems should also see Chimney Leaning, Separation, Movement-Outdoors, and CHIMNEY LEANING, SEPARATION, MOVEMENTChimney Crack & Collapse Risks. Repairs for moving chimneys are discussed at CHIMNEY LEANING, REPAIR OPTIONS.
A Catalog of the Causes of Chimney Movement
Both outdoors and indoors we may also see chimney cracks which could be due to chimney movement (introduced above) or due to compression loads or other chimney construction problems (just below).
Goofy Moving Chimney Repairs and Attempts to Hide Chimney Movement
At Chimney Movement - Ongoing vs Static we continue this article with a case reporting evidence of ongoing chimney movement, repeated repairs, and the need to remove and rebuild a large masonry chimney.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Chimney Movement Causes, Diagnosis, & Evaluation
Question: chimney damage or movement caused by chimney sweep work?
I had a chimney sweep on my roof last week He cut the top off one of the clay liners to accommodate a chimney cap. After his departure I noticed the top of the chimney was moved away from the house about 1 inch. Could the chimney sweep leaning on the chimney produce enough force to move the chimney? I am absolutely sure the chimney was not away from the house prior to his work. Thanks for any help you may provide. - M.H., Woburn MA
Reply: check the chimney flue for safety ASAP
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem such as the chimney movement you describe. And while I express opinions and give advice below, we're talking email here - not a substitute for an onsite expert. An unsafe chimney (yours, if it moved, may be unsafe) is a fire and carbon monoxide hazard risking fire or even a fatality. Sorry to sound so "scary" but when we're talking about chimneys by email I feel obligated to worry about safety first.
That said, here are some things to consider:
Watch out: your first priority is safety: Assuming that your chimney is in use, perhaps by your heating system or a fireplace, the first priority is to make sure that the chimney is safe to use. Do not delay in resolving that question. I offer "how to" advice in these notes.
Any chimney of any type that has moved raises very important safety questions.
I would like to see sharp photos of the chimney cap installation, the chimney from roof and from ground, of any scraps you find, any cracks you observe, and I can offer further comment - but an onsite inspection by an expert is most important rather than my email views.
Finally, your chimney inspector might want to be familiar with NFPA 921 - if s/he is someone who is a professional and who works with fire and explosion investigations they probably know this "Guide for Fire and Explosion INvestigations". The current edition of NFPA 921 can be purchased online at NFPA 921: Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations (Amazon) or directly from the NFPA at nfpa.org/aboutthecodes/AboutTheCodes.asp?DocNum=921&cookie_test=1 - listed at our references as well: 
Questions & answers or comments about the causes of chimney separation from the building, cracking, leaning, or other chimney movement problems.
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Technical Reviewers & References
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