If the crack is wider than 1/8-inch, it should be sealed. Cracks between 1/8 and ¼ of an inch often result from house settling or concrete shrinking within a few months after construction, and so. If no obvious leaks are found, the manifold may be cracked. There are a couple of ways to check a plastic manifold on an engine for cracks. One is to start the engine and let it idle while you feed propane gas through a short piece of hose along all mating surfaces, seams and flanges.
- POST a QUESTION or COMMENT about how to diagnose & repair chimney cracks
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Diagnose cracks in chimneys:
This article catalogs the types of chimney cracks and movement that may be found in brick, stone, or concrete block chimneys; we describe the inspection and and diagnosis of the cause of each type of chimney cracking and we suggest the probable severity, safety concerns, and chimney repairs that may be necessary.
We include links to additional detailed articles about each type of chimney cracking or movement.
We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.
Cracked Brick Masonry Chimney Sides
This article series on chimneys, chimney construction, 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.
Guide to Diagnosing & Evaluating Cracks in Brick Chimneys
Our brick chimney photographs just above illustrate a common (and dangerous) crack pattern found in corbeled (stair-stepped) chimneys where a brick chimney passes through an attic floor and is angled over to exit at the chimney ridge.
At the chimney in our photo at above left, look very closely at the masonry joint where the chimney begins its transition from vertical to angled.
To prevent cracks in a leaned-brick chimney such as this one, the chimney depends on absolutely stable support by the roof framing structure where it passes through the roof to outside.
Unless the brick chimney was adequately supported and constructed it may lean, causing the crack pattern we show below.
Watch out: often the crack in a leaning brick chimney occurs at the attic floor where the chimney begins its transition from vertical to angled - a spot where the crack may be hard to spot.
See CHIMNEY INSPECTION INDOORS for a discussion of chimney movement that opens a hard-to-find crack where a corbeled brick chimney passes through an attic floor.
List of Typical Causes of Cracks in Brick Masonry Chimneys & Flues
Cracks in a brick masonry chimney such as shown in these photographs may be caused by improper original chimney construction. This damage also appears on concrete block constructed chimneys.
- Improper construction: failure to leave air space between flue line and masonry chimney sides - if the mason does not leave an expansiongap surrounding the clay flue liners as they are set into the chimney during construction, as the flue heats up during use, the expanding flue may crack the surrounding brick.
- Water leaks: at the chimney top (missing rain cap, faulty chimney cap top seal), or at the chimney sides (defective flashing, wind-blown rain, open mortar joints) can send water into the chimney structure where in freezing climates frost can lead to cracks to the chimney itself or to its flue liner.
We illustrate water and frost damage to a brick chimney in this article, below.
Also see CHIMNEY CAP & CROWN DEFINITIONS
and CHIMNEY FLASHING MISTAKES & LEAKS.
And since water and frost can also cause surface spalling of brick or concrete block chimneys,
also see CHIMNEY SPALLING, EXTERIOR
- Chimney movement: a chimney which is set on a defective footing or foundation (more improper chimney construction) or a chimney which was not properly secured to the building may lean, bend, or curl, leading to cracks that usually appear in the mortar joints.
See BRACING for MASONRY CHIMNEYS
- Thermal expansion cracks in chimneys: a masonry chimney may crack from thermal expansion, or its internal flue may crack from thermal expansion, if the chimney was not properly constructed, failing to leave space for movement as the chimney interior heats up when in use. We illustrate thermal cracking in a brick chimney in this article, just below.
Also see THERMAL EXPANSION of MATERIALS for a table of the coefficient of expansion of common building materials.
- Mechanical damaged chimney cracking: a masonry chimney may crack due to stresses from a chimney-mounted antenna, or from earthquake or nearby site blasting stresses.
See EARTHQUAKE CHIMNEY COLLAPSE DANGERS
The second cracked chimney at above right is a bit more suspect because we see what might be traces ofsoot or creosote having washed out through the cracks to the chimney exterior. If this proves to bethe case this flue is certainly seriously damaged.
Frost Cracking in Brick Chimneys & Flues - outdoor & indoor evidence of brick chimney damage
At left we show a very common crack pattern found in brick masonry chimneys & flues - water and frost cracking at the chimney top.
Considering that there is a nice thick concrete chimney cap. why do we have this brick movement and mortar-joint cracking?
Perhaps the chimney cap is cracked, flat, not draining, or it was not sealed around the flue, or a rain cap was missing.
See CHIMNEY CAP & CROWN DEFINITIONS for detailed examples of defects at the chimney top that lead to this type of chimney damage.
Also see CHIMNEY SPALLING, EXTERIOR
If Found Call On Iphone
At below left we show a very common crack pattern found in brick masonry chimneys & flues - a collection of vertical, diagonal, and even some horizontal chimney cracks that are probably due to a combination of water intrusion and (in freezing climates) frost cracking.
Even if you do not immediately notice the chimney cracks themselves you are likely to spot this chimney damage by the creosote stains carried to the chimney surface by water entry into the chimney flue.
Of course had these cracks and stains been present on a hidden side of the chimney, say between the chimney and a close-by gable-end wall, you'd not see these clues from within the attic.
But inspecting this chimney outside, if it has had no proper rain cap and chimney cap you should be extra alert for water and frost damage to the chimney and its flue.
A second set of clues - water leak stains, may be visible in a fireplace or at a chimney cleanout lower in the building.
Thermal Cracking in Brick Chimneys & Flues May Produce Thin Vertical Openings
At left we show a very common crack pattern found in brick masonry chimneys & flues - a vertical crack that begins in a mortar joint and extends through individual bricks themselves.
Cracked chimney masonry such as shown in the photo of cracks in a brick chimney exterior (at left), maya safety concern if the flue liner or chimney are not intact and fire/gas safe.
The brick chimney crack type shown here is more often caused by thermal expansion (and improper chimney construction) than by frost - frost cracking is often more visually obvious and is often accompanied by brick spalling.
If Found.. Cracks
Severe Chimney Cracking - Deteriorated, Collapsing Brick or Masonry Block Chimneys
Severe chimney cracks that risk imminent chimney collapse, flue gas leaks, and fire hazards, are discussed and illustrated in detail
at BRICK CHIMNEY CRACKS & COLLAPSE
There we also describe a case of an imminent catastrophic chimney collapse
Also see our discussion
of CONCRETE BLOCK CHIMNEY CRACKS
Watch out: Cracks in a chimney can be very significant and dangerous, risking fire or chimney collapse.
Be sure to review the dangerous chimney collapse warnings at
at CHIMNEY COLLAPSE RISKS, REPAIRS
Cracks in Masonry Block or Concrete Block Chimneys
Cracks in a masonry chimney, particularly concrete block chimneys are often caused by
- chimney footing tipping or settlement (inadequate foundation)
- frost (poor drainage, missing rain cap, porous masonry, improper construction in freezing climates)
- thermal expansion of the clay flue liner (improper construction)
- mechanical damage,
- or perhaps other events
See CRACKED CHIMNEYS, MASONRY BLOCK for details and additional photographs of concrete block chimney cracking.
Chimney Cracks due to Chimney Movement, Tipping, Leaning
Chimneys that lean, curve, bulge, tip, or otherwise move due to footing settlement and tipping or due to failure to secure a tall chimney to the building also may produce both visible cracks on the chimney exterior and hidden cracks and damage to the chimney flue.
The risk of an unsafe chimney flue lies behind our advice that a thorough inspection of the entire chimney flue is necessary when there is any evidence of chimney movement.
See CHIMNEY LEANING, SEPARATION, MOVEMENT: OUTDOORS for details of the detection, analysis, and repair of leaning and tipping chimneys and chimneys that have separated from their building.
Curved Brick Masonry Chimneys
Especially on older buildings using brick chimneys, and more so where the chimney flue is not lined with a modern clay liner, brick chimneys may be seen to curve in one direction.
Often all of the similar chimneys in a neighborhood curve in the same direction. It's not a coincidence. A brick chimney will often curve away from its most weather-exposed side due to sulphation - expanding brick mortar joints caused by the combination of water and sulphur or other minerals.
See CURVED BRICK CHIMNEYS, SULPHATION for further explanation of the cause, significance, and cure of curved brick chimneys.
Reader Q&A - also see the FAQs series linked-to below
On 2020-09-22 - by (mod) -
No, sorry but we cannot offer to repair the damage to your chimney. InspectAPedia.com provides building and environmental diagnostic and repair information. In order to absolutely assure our readers that we write and report without bias we do not sell any products nor services, nor do we have any business or financial relationships that could create such conflicts of interest.
But we can offer advice, suggest questions to ask, and help you sort through most building and environmental problems.
I would start by hiring a professional certified chimney sweep or repair company and I would have them inspect the entire chimney flue. We don't know if the damage is trivial, confined to a to clay flue tile liner (remove and replace) or if there is more extensive damage that makes the flue unsafe.
Let me know what you're told, post photos (one per comment, as many comments as you need), and we can take it from there.
InspectAPedia is an independent publisher of building, environmental, and forensic inspection, diagnosis, and repair information for the public - we have no business nor financial connection with any manufacturer or service provider discussed at our website. We very much welcome critique, questions, or content suggestions for our web articles.
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On 2020-09-22 by MISS J THURSTON
I thought my roof was leaking so I phoned the company I already had work done by. After their Roofer looked at it he told reassured me my roof was not leaking .
I saw him taking photos and asked if I had rain coming down my Chimney. I replied yes. He took more photos. Then came down of the roof. On this he shown me a crack in the chimney stack.
I was wondering if you could give me a reasonable quote to have this problem resolved as I am a oap. Yours sincerely Miss J Thurston. Thank you very much. I look forward to hearing from you.
On 2020-07-26 by M
Expert said it was likely due to shifting, but only looked at emailed photos. Quoted 2600 USD to tear down to roof level.
On 2020-07-24 - by (mod) - very dangerous chimney: collapse risk, fire risk, carbon monoxide poisoning risk. Not usable.
There are two serious safety hazards here
Watch out: A chimney collapse, injuring someone nearby and damaging the building,
Watch out: there is a near-certain risk of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning or a building fire if the chimney in use.
1. Rope off the area and keep poeople away pending an onsite expert's help
2. Make certain no oil or gas or other fueled equipment is using the chimney.
One would need to inspect the whole chimney down to its footing to understand the exact cause, but almost certainly this chimney is beyond economic repair. It needs to be removed and replaced.
On 2020-07-24 by christopher ricci
I have a chimney that cracked badly and seperated from the wall. it was due to pile driving behind our building. it is very hard to tell what is happening with the chimney or how it was attached to the building. it looks as though it detached from one side of the wall and is pushing the other side. i can see into the chimney , oddly enough the chimney crack stops on the inside and doesn't travel to the outer chimney, it is inside of my building so I dont have any idea how to take it down. can i leave it alone, as it seams like such a massive project that i dont think we can afford to have it removed. ( probbaly cant afford not to have it removed.) I have had contractors say it might fall down. does the outside chimney connect with the inside chimney ? can they be two serperate structures? or are they constructed all in one structure? it is so massive i am affraid to touch it anywhere. I have tried to pull the sheetrock away from the structure. unfortunately alot of the building has decorative moldings, and paneling .. It looks like the chimney is pushing on one side of the wall due to cracks along the wall. i have had no water come in but i can see daylight, into the chimney. its bad
On 2020-07-19 - by (mod) -
Please let me know what you are told.
On 2020-07-19 by Anonymous
I should have clarified that 'leaking' was more of a staining. It's not as if it's pooling or a serious issue at all; just evidence that there is/was water.
Because this is more complicated than I thought it would, I'm going to have it looked at (in person!) by a professional.
Thanks for all your help.
On 2020-07-17 01:41:57.564848 - by (mod) -
It would be worth looking carefully at the chimney to be sure we know where the water is entering. E.g. water can enter at the top from a missing rain cap or missing top or crown seal, run down between the flue and the block or masonry of the chimney, and cause frost damage.
The correct pattern does suggest water coming in from the top or somewhere on the chimney height above ground. Feeling the top is reasonable if you can absolutely prevent the chimney from being used in the future..
I would want to be sure that I don't have a problem with ground water leaking into the chimney base because if we don't fix that will continue to have water entry in the basement. Let's resolve the Water Source question first
On 2020-07-15 by M
Thanks for the quick response. Yes I'm in a freezing climate in Ontario, Canada.
It's not connected to a fireplace, it really never will be used again. It was used by an oil furnace which has since been replaced for natural gas. The opening into the basement to which it connects was 'sealed' but is leaking dirty water, so yes water seems to be an issue.
Would you suggest sealing the flue at the top? I've seen online tutorials using sheet metal and silicone caulk. If I do that, should I not seal the basement opening?
I'm also considering having the chimney removed to play it safe.
On 2020-07-15 - by (mod) - vertical crack at the center of a masonry chimney
I am in no position, here far away and with only one photo, to argue with whomever your onsite expert was. Weight might cause masonry to split in the middle, but so might frost from water running inside the masonry chimney, perhaps from a bad top seal, crown, or missing cap.
Are you in a freezing climate? If not we'll rule that explanation out.
Chimneys do not normally split from their own weight.
A bad or settling chimney footing under a masonry chimney can cause cracking but I think the cracks would be different in location and pattern.
Besides, that, the most-important point is this:
Watch out: the serious risk is of an unsafe chimney flue, risking fire or fatal carbon monoxide hazards. You should have the flue inspected by a certified chimney sweep - for safety - before continuing to use this flue. That inspection can give us an idea about what repair is most-appropriate.
Let me know what you're told and I can offer some further suggestions.
On 2020-07-15 by M
I have this crack from the base on an unused chimney stack, I've been told that it's because of the weight of the chimney and that it's sticking out from the house. Thoughts?
On 2019-02-08 - by (mod) -
In your photo I see fine hairline cracks right through the middle of what looks like bricks - in a brick and mortar masonry chimney.
I have so little information that I can only guess that the bricks may have cracked from thermal changes in the chimney or maybe even overheating.
You would be wise and safer to have the chimney inspected by a certified chimney sweep (National Chimney Sweeps Guild if you are in the U.S.)
not just for the crack we see, but to assure that the interior flue is intact and safe.
IF the chimney is indeed significantly damaged it may be repairable by re-lining, but gee that's just speculation from a very limited image.
On 2019-02-08 by torres.mayra.g
I am interested in buying a house. However, I am concern because the chimney has many cracks. What could the cause of such cracks be?
IMAGE LOST by older version of Clark Van Oyen’s useful Comments code - now fixed. Please re-post the image if you can. Sorry. Mod.
(Nov 4, 2019) DP said:
Recently noticed this crack along my chimy. We've lived here about a year and not sure if this was there when we moved and we (along with inspection) missed it or its new.
Measured it and its between 1/8 and 1/16 of an inch wide.
Thanks in advance!
This Q&A were posted originally at CONSULTANTS & EXPERTS DIRECTORIES
We need more details to make even a wild guess at cause, impact, & repair of this chimney foundation crack;
I agree that it's big enough to warrant investigation and at the very least, sealang, possibly other repair.
On the other hand, I don't see cracks extending up from the concrete base into the body of the chimney.
Watch out: the first safety question that occurs to us is the risk of a cracked, damaged chimney flue - risking fire or fatal CO poisoning. So you might start by asking a certified chimney sweep fdor a thorough inspection of the chimney flue for safety.
Some additional diagnostic questions:
- Does this home have a basement?
- How old is the home.
- What are the country and city of location?
- In the basement is there heating equipment venting into this chimney?
- In the basement is there a chimney cleanout access opening? If so open it and look for signs of water entry and also - important - tell me if the bottom of the cleanout chamber is at the same level as the basement floor slab or higher.
Continue reading at CRACKED CHIMNEYS, MASONRY BLOCK or select a topic from the closely-related articles below, or see the complete ARTICLE INDEX.
Or see CHIMNEY CRACK DETECTION & DIAGNOSIS FAQs - questions & answers posted originally on this page.
Or see these
Chimney Collapse / Crack Articles
- CHIMNEY CRACK DETECTION & DIAGNOSIS
- CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR - home
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Technical Reviewers & References
- 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 [email protected]
- John Cranor [Website: /www.house-whisperer.com ] 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 804-873-8534 or by Email: [email protected]
- Thanks to Luke Barnes for suggesting that we add text regarding the hazards of shared chimney flues. USMA - Sept. 2008.
- Arlene Puentes [Website: www.octoberhome.com ] , an ASHI member and a licensed home inspector in Kingston, NY, and has served on ASHI national committees as well as HVASHI Chapter President. Ms. Puentes can be contacted at [email protected]
- Roger Hankeyis principal of Hankey and Brown home inspectors, Eden Prairie, MN, technical review by Roger Hankey, prior chairman, Standards Committee, American Society of Home Inspectors - ASHI. 952 829-0044 - hankeyandbrown.com
- NFPA 211 - Standards for Chimneys & Fireplaces, NFPA 211: Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances, 2006 Edition (older editions and standards are found at the same bookstore)
- 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.
- GAMA -Gas Appliance Manufacturers' Association has prepared venting tables forCategory I draft hood equipped central furnaces as well as fan-assistedcombustion 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 FirePrevention 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 1979Building 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
- Chimney Inspection Checklist, Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, Ontario
- '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
- Our recommended books about building & mechanical systems design, inspection, problem diagnosis, and repair, and about indoor environment and IAQ testing, diagnosis, and cleanup are at the InspectAPedia Bookstore. Also see our Book Reviews - InspectAPedia.
- Ceramic Roofware, Hans Van Lemmen, Shire Library, 2008, ISBN-13: 978-0747805694 - Brick chimneys, chimney-pots and roof and ridge tiles have been a feature of the roofs of a wide range of buildings since the late Middle Ages. In the first instance this ceramic roofware was functional - to make the roof weatherproof and to provide an outlet for smoke - but it could also be very decorative. The practical and ornamental aspects of ceramic roofware can still be seen throughout Britain, particularly on buildings of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Not only do these often have ornate chimneys and roof tiles but they may also feature ornamental sculptures or highly decorative gable ends. This book charts the history of ceramic roofware from the Middle Ages to the present day, highlighting both practical and decorative applications, and giving information about manufacturers and on the styles and techniques of production and decoration. Hans van Lemmen is an established author on the history of tiles and has lectured on the subject in Britain and elsewhere. He is founder member and presently publications editor of the British Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society.
- Chimney Inspection Checklist, Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, Ontario
- Chimney & Stack Inspection Guidelines, American Society of Civil Engineers, 2003 - These guidelines address the inspection of chimneys and stacks. Each guideline assists owners in determining what level of inspection is appropriate to a particular chimney and provides common criteria so that all parties involved have a clear understanding of the scope of the inspection and the end product required. Each chimney or stack is a unique structure, subject to both aggressive operating and natural environments, and degradation over time. Such degradation may be managed via a prudent inspection program followed by maintenance work on any equipment or structure determined to be in need of attention. Sample inspection report specifications, sample field inspection data forms, and an example of a developed plan of a concrete chimney are included in the guidelines. This book provides a valuable guidance tool for chimney and stack inspections and also offers a set of references for these particular inspections.
- Fireplaces, a Practical Design Guide, Jane Gitlin
- Fireplaces, Friend or Foe, Robert D. Mayo
- NFPA 211 - Standards for Chimneys & Fireplaces, NFPA 211: Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances, 2006 Edition (older editions and standards are found at the same bookstore)
- Principles of Home Inspection: Chimneys & Wood Heating, in (Principles of Home Inspection), Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, Ontario
- U.S. vs. Canadian Unlined Masonry Chimney Flue Requirements & Case Study
- 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
- Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: [email protected] The firm provides professional HOME INSPECTION SERVICES and also extensive HOME INSPECTION EDUCATION and home inspection-related PUBLICATIONS. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors.
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