While the Leaning Tower of Pisa may be a wonderful sight to see, the Leaning Chimney of Home is not such a good thing. If you are lucky, your chimney might be leaning because it initially wasn’t constructed straight. Usually, however, a leaning chimney means problems with the soil underneath it — and that soil problem can affect your home’s foundation.
If the soil under your home was not compacted correctly, the dirt will settle. Some settling after construction is normal under all circumstances, but improperly tamped soil under a foundation may result in greater shifting. This shifting can move the chimney. If this is the reason the chimney moved, then it also is the reason your foundation will shift — if it hasn’t already.
Heavy rains and flooding affect the soil beneath the chimney and foundation. When soil absorbs water, the dirt expands and pushes against the chimney base and foundation. Water also can infiltrate the concrete and cause cracks. These cracks get bigger and weaken the concrete, causing it to shift.
Plumbing leaks can cause water damage to your foundation and chimney base. For those homeowners who only have a crawl space, your pipes might be buried underground. This means they could have been leaking for quite a while, causing saturated soil to push against the chimney base.
In addition to a leaning chimney, there are other signs that indicate the soil under your home is shifting or is saturated with moisture. Look for cracks in the foundation’s concrete — inside and outside. One or two small hairline cracks could be a result of minor settling, but keep an eye on those cracks. If they get bigger or are big to being with, pressure is being exerted somewhere from the outside. Cracks that look like stairs are signs of structural damage, as are bowed basement walls.
Water spots on the basement or crawl space floor and/or walls also mean moisture has seeped into the concrete, which weakens the concrete. Look for crumbled concrete around the chimney base and foundation.
If the entire house is not straight, it might look like a leaning chimney is level with the home. Use a level along one side of the chimney and the far side of the house to determine if the home and chimney are plumb. If they are not, the foundation has shifted.
Fixing the Leaning Tower of Chimney
Straightening a leaning chimney involves lifting your home’s foundation. To keep it straight involves additional support. Helical piers are attached to the outside of the foundation or crawl space. They are driven into the ground until they reach stable soil.
Do not leave a leaning chimney alone and hope for the best. Over time, the chimney will develop more cracks, allowing insects and rodents such as mice access to the interior of your home. Bricks and mortar can fall and damage your property or someone walking past the area. A chimney that isn’t sealed allows toxic fumes into the home.
A leaning chimney is not something to ignore. When you notice a problem, contact a foundation repair expert to look it over. After the repairs are made, you should address the water problems that caused the leaning. Discuss drainage solutions with your foundation repair expert as well as other ways to combat the danger of saturated soil.
Acculevel Has Chimneys Standing Tall
Basement and foundation repair experts since 1996, at Acculevel, we also expertly handle leaning chimneys. Our skilled staff can install helical tiebacks and piers to lift and support your foundation and chimney. Once we’ve done that, we are more than happy to address all your crawl space and foundation waterproofing needs. If you live in the Midwest and would like a free in-home estimate on chimney repair and foundation waterproofing, call Acculevel at (866) 669-3349 or email us at [email protected].