The chimney in your house should be in a perfect condition to help the toxic gases escape. With time, some chimneys tend to lean, which indicates a structural problem with the house. However, not every situation is the same. Instead of panicking, you should know the signs of a tilting chimney so you can schedule a chimney inspection. We will discuss some causes along with signs that will enable you to get through the problem before it turns serious.

Causes Of A Leaning Chimney

Bad Quality Chimney

The most popular cause of chimney-leaning happens to be bad quality. From the outside, chimneys might look the same and easy to build but it requires a good set of hands to last decades. If you have recently purchased a new home and observed the chimney is leaning to one side, it means it was not built properly.

Chimneys can also pose a threat to the property if there is a problem. However, if the chimney has suddenly started to lean, it means there is probably a problem with the foundation of the property as well. But that is a lengthy diagnosis. Before you point your fingers, you should thoroughly inspect the chimney.

Furthermore, chimneys are also made to withstand extreme outdoor elements. If you observe that your chimney was not able to make it through its very first thunderstorm, you should consider it a bad-quality chimney. In this case, you should get it rebuilt by an expert. Look for problems like crown cracks, brick cracks, mortar damage, water leaking into the chimney and the fireplace, smoky fireplace, and others.

Moisture Damage

Another noteworthy cause of chimney-leaning is moisture damage. Moisture is the biggest enemy of chimneys and can cause significant damage by weakening and causing the chimney to lean. In the case of moisture damage, the signs do not appear immediately. Instead, the process is relatively slow and takes time.

So, it might be that you come home to notice your chimney leaning to one side. The reason is that freezing temperatures and thawing cycles can take a toll on the chimney’s bricks and mortar. It is possible that rainwater, moisture, etc. does not evaporate and stays in the chimney, which causes the chimney’s structure to weaken. This affects the mortar and brickwork, which help keep the chimney in place. You should schedule expert maintenance to avoid these problems.

Improper Footing

The footing at the structure’s foundation plays a key role in chimney construction. Ideally, the footing should be made of stone or concrete. Moreover, it must be deep enough to keep the structure built on it stable.

Unfortunately, not all footings are made in this manner. The problem is that chimneys can begin to lean if the footings are not right.

A huge problem faced by chimneys is earthquakes. They can shake the foundation of not only the chimney but also the property especially if the chimney is not properly footed. Also, the chimney footing can fail if it is too shallow or narrow.

Plus, footings made of subpart materials are also prone to cracking. A chimney that tilts frequently has a broken footing. A footing that was not properly reinforced might break, causing the chimney to lean to one side. If you are buying a new house, focus on inspecting the footing and the chimney structure. So, you can detect problems and repair them or if the problem is big enough, you look for another house.

Detecting these problems can difficult for an average homeowner, so you should hire expert to inspect the house for you.

What Are The Signs Of Chimney Leaning?

The first obvious sign of a chimney leaning is the tilt itself. In the beginning, you might observe a slight tilt, which should not be ignored. Sometimes, the tilt is unnoticeable unless you use a level. Another sign is that there are going to be gaps between the chimney and the house.

Closely inspect the seams where the sidings meet the chimney. You will notice a crack if the chimney is tilting. You cannot fix the issue by filling up the crack. It is just a temporary solution. You will must consult a professional for an inspection and repair.

Moreover, the chimney is fastened to the roofline using a metal flashing. Its job is to prevent moisture from penetrating the chimney and roof seams. If the chimney is leaning to one side, you should check if the metal flashings have come loose. It is a sure sign of soil settling and could damage the attic with water and moisture.

How To Fix A Leaning Chimney?

Titling or leaning chimneys requires immediate action. The diagnosis and fix will depend on the underlying cause. If the chimney has tilted too much, it will need to be rebuilt. However, if it is in its initial stages, the expert might be able to stop it by carrying out the necessary chimney repair Columbia MD.

Keep in mind that a leaning chimney with structural and foundational issues will not be able to hold on for much longer. To keep the chimney from collapsing, experts will install helical piers that underpin the chimney. These piers are installed deep into the ground for long-lasting and secure support.

In addition to that, some chimneys when compared to others are heavier. Considering their weight, they are going to need a micropile underpinning system, which is the same used in stabilizing towers, bridges, and highways. Plus, the entire chimney doesn’t necessarily have to be worked on in every case.

If only the top of the chimney is leaning, you can have the experts work on the top and correct the leaning. The top part of the chimney will need to be rebuilt.

Does Chimney Maintenance Prevent Such Issues?

If chimney maintenance does not prevent leaning issues, it sure helps keep other issues at bay as well. Chimneys can be complicated things to work with if they are of bad quality or have been damaged due to external factors. The primary objective of maintenance is not only to keep it clean but also to inspect it for cracks, damage, leakages, etc.

This is because some chimney problems or signs are not that visible and show effects when they turn worse. In such situations, the homeowners find themselves stranded. This is why professional maintenance helps keep such problems at bay.

Chimneys contain a lot of soot and creosote, which are produced during the wood-burning process. The soot and creosote accumulation can pose a threat if ignored for long and can be hard to remove as well. Unless you have the tools and experience to clean it, you should hire a professional to do it at least once a year or more depending on the usage frequency.


A leaning chimney is a serious concern that needs swift action. Only an expert can tell if you have to repair or rebuild it. However, in the meantime, you should look for signs and symptoms and schedule professional maintenance for things to remain smooth. These problems can be expensive to fix and it is better if you avoid them by spending a few hundred dollars on an annual inspection by chimney contractors Bowie.

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