Chimneys are usually attached to a support wall with mortar or other braces that typically cannot hold it in place when the footing or foundation beneath the chimney moves. This creates a potentially dangerous situation, as a chimney is very heavy.
Signs Your Chimney Needs Repair
It’s important to get a free foundation evaluation and quote as soon as possible if you see any of these issues with your chimney:
- Leaning chimney
- Separating chimney
- Sinking chimney
What Causes Chimney Problems?
A leaning, separated, or sinking chimney is often the result of a footer or foundation issue, but could also be related to how and when it was constructed.
A general guideline for a chimney footing is it should be at least one foot thick, extend at least six inches beyond the chimney on all sides, and sit below the frostline. If the builder missed the mark on any one of those, the footing may be failing, and unable to properly support the chimney.
If your home is older, there may be no footer or foundation under your chimney. Without a footer, there isn’t much support for the massive weight of the chimney.
Expansive soils, like clay, change in volume due to water conditions. Water causes an increase in soil volume, and the expanding soil pushes the chimney’s footing or foundation. When the soil dries and shrinks, the chimney foundation drops with it. This constant shifting can cause the footer or foundation to crack.
If water can’t drain away from the chimney, the constant pressure of the wet, expansive soil can create so much pressure that the footing or foundation cracks. If water drains away too fast, it causes soil erosion, forcing the chimney footer or foundation to shift.
Chimney Repair Method
It doesn’t matter if your chimney is sinking, settling, or tilting, if it’s a footing- or foundation-related issue, our repair method is the same — leveling it with steel piers.
Foundation Piers for Chimney Leveling
First, we stabilize the chimney by driving steel piers (also known as piles) into the load-bearing soils underneath it. Once these piers are load bearing, we attach the chimney to the piers heavy duty brackets, then jack your chimney until it is level again.
There are two types of steel piers. Which one we use depends on the type of soil surrounding your home.
Helical piers look, and are installed like giant screws. The plates at the top attach under your chimney, and transfer the weight of your chimney to the pier, stabilizing it so it can no longer shift. Helical piers are the best choice for softer surface soils.
Push piers are sometimes necessary when working with denser soil, such as clay, where helical piers cannot screw down easily. These piers support your chimney as helical piers do, but they are driven into the ground using a hydraulic ram. Push piers are less versatile than helical piers.
How Foundation Piers are Installed to Support a Chimney
- At each pier location, our crew will dig a hole.
- Steel L-shaped brackets are placed under the footing or foundation of the chimney. If there isn’t a foundation or footing, we will use tube steel and then place the foundation repair bracket under that. Tube steel provides a solid foundation and can be lifted if necessary to level the chimney.
- The steel piers are then driven into the ground until they reach appropriate load-bearing soils.
- The weight of your chimney is shifted from the unstable soils to the piers using hydraulic jacks.
- The crew brings the chimney to level.
- The excavated soil is filled back in to cover the brackets and piers.
See how Kent Foundation Repair has used steel piers to fix other chimneys.
More Helpful Information
Additional resources about slab foundations geared towards homeowners.
Crawl Space Foundation Repair Frequently Asked Questions
How much does chimney repair cost?
When the cause of the chimney’s issues are related to underlying foundation problems, the cost to repair depends on the condition of your current foundation, the size of your house, and the related repairs needed. To get a solid idea of cost, request a free evaluation and estimate.
Do you do any other types of chimney repair?
The chimney repair work Kent Foundation Repair does is only related to a foundation issue. If you need your chimney relined, crown and cap replaced, tuckpointing, or related service, please contact a chimney repair specialist.