Tag: chimney

Improving Building Safety – Chimneys


Building Structures, continued . . .

Disclaimer: The following basic info comes from a number of sources deemed to be reputable.  BUT, be sure to get more information before you start making any changes to your home!

Partially collapsed brick chimney
Partial collapse damages roof

Chimneys are dangerous.

If you don’t have a chimney, you can skip this post – but only if your neighbor doesn’t have a chimney, either!

Chimneys are dangerous because they are usually constructed of unreinforced masonry or brick. In an earthquake, they can fall onto the roof of your house or to the ground.  In many cases, the entire chimney falls away from the wall, collapsing in a pile of bricks on the ground.

What’s the condition of your chimney/s?

Take these basic steps to understand the risk in your own home.

Action Item:  Check the condition of your chimney. Is the mortar crumbly? If yes, that’s a danger sign.  Check the attic. Is the chimney tied to the house with metal braces? If not, that’s a danger sign.

Consider these steps to make your chimney safer. 

  1. Check around the base of the chimney OUTSIDE to be sure there are no parking areas or play areas that would be threatened if the chimney came down.  Take a look at your nearby neighbor’s chimneys to see that they don’t threaten your yard or house, too.
  2. Consult with a professional to see if the chimney can be attached to the house.
  3. Consult with a professional to see if your roof or walls can be strengthened — typically with plywood sheets —  to protect against falling brick.
  4. Remove the bricks in the top section of the chimney and replace with a metal flue.

Again, any construction you undertake should be with the advice of a qualified professional.  But don’t procrastinate.  If your chimney is dangerous, it’s only getting worse with age.

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

If you are just coming across this Advisory, don’t miss the other Advisories that deal with improving your home’s safety:

Share these Advisories with neighbors, too.  Their home is likely to be as vulnerable as yours is.