A fireplace is one of the coziest parts of any home, but if the exterior chimney is damaged, it can be a major safety hazard.
One common issue that homeowners face is a cracked chimney. If ignored, this problem can compromise the structural integrity of your chimney and put your home at risk.
At Ohio Basement Systems, we understand that your home is valuable and deserves the best care possible. We specialize in whole-home solutions, including cracked chimney repair, with our proprietary foundation repair products and methods.
By reading this page, you will learn why your chimney is cracking and how to fix it to maintain your home’s stability and ensure your family’s safety.
What Is a Cracked Chimney?
A cracked chimney refers to visible or hidden fractures in the masonry or stonework of the chimney structure.
Cracks manifest in various areas, such as the flue, crown, and the body of the chimney. As pictured here, they are most prominent in the mortar joints between the bricks. These fractures are more than a cosmetic issue; they can lead to severe problems, including water leaks, reduced efficiency, and structural instability.
You may also notice gaps between the bricks in the chimney body, which can result in additional damage, causing it to lean or pull away from the rest of the house.
What Causes Cracked Chimneys?
Several factors lead to cracked chimneys, the most prevalent being foundation settlement rooted in soil instability.
Ohio is rich in expansive clay-based soils, which are susceptible to moisture fluctuation.
Soil can become unstable due to a variety of reasons, including:
- Wetting and Softening: Heavy rains, flooding, and snowmelt saturate the soil, making the ground soft and unable to bear the weight of the chimney.
- Erosion: Excessive moisture and flooding can cause the underlying soil to erode over time.
- Drying Out and Contracting: The soil contracts during dry periods or drought, creating voids into which the chimney footing can settle.
- Poor Compaction During Construction: The soil must be properly prepared and compacted before building the chimney. If this step is missed or not completed thoroughly, the ground may not be able to support the structure.
- Invasive Tree Roots: Nearby trees with invasive root systems can dislodge and shift the soil as they seek moisture and nutrients. This activity destabilizes the ground, allowing roots to penetrate the chimney’s structure.
Since chimneys are often not built on the same foundation as the rest of the house, they are especially susceptible to these soil-related issues. When the unstable soil fails to support the chimney adequately, it begins to crack and may separate from the side of the home.
Can You Fix Chimney Cracks?
Yes, cracked chimneys can be effectively repaired, but it’s essential to approach the problem holistically.
DIY repairs such as repointing bricks, applying sealants, and simple patchwork are temporary fixes that won’t suffice. The chimney will continue shifting on the unsteady ground, reopening old cracks or creating new ones.
A whole-home solution is necessary to resolve the issue. Our team at Ohio Basement Systems identifies the issue’s underlying cause and employs specialized techniques to deliver a permanent solution.
As homeowners ourselves, we understand that each house is unique in its own way. We offer various foundation repair solutions customized to your home’s needs. These include foundation pier systems.
How to Fix a Cracked Chimney
Inspection and Diagnosis
Our experts thoroughly inspect your home, foundation, and chimney. We evaluate and note the extent and location of the cracks and other damage.
Install Foundation Piers
The best tools to address a damaged chimney are foundation piers that permanently stabilize and lift it back to its original position. This may help close cracks and gaps, but further masonry may be needed afterward.
Depending on the soil and condition of the chimney, we install either helical piers or push piers deep into the ground until we reach a stable soil layer. Our SettleStop Helical Pier System is ideal for lighter loads, including chimneys. Here’s what the process entails:
- Excavate the soil down to the chimney footer
- Use hydraulic equipment to advance the piers into the soil
- Monitor the pressure and depth of installed piers
- Advance the screw-like piers until they reach stable soil or bedrock
- Attach a durable steel bracket to the footing, ensuring load transfer
- Install small rivets in the exterior brick as benchmarks
- Backfill excavated soil
Annual Maintenance Inspections
Our service and maintenance programs guarantee continued pier chimney reinforcement. We conduct annual inspections, using a laser level to ensure alignment with the established benchmarks. This confirms the continued security of the system.
Why Address the Chimney Issues Now
Delaying cracked chimney repairs worsens the chimney’s condition and leads to safety hazards and costly future repairs. Here’s how you’ll benefit from quickly identifying and resolving these issues:
- Avoid Safety Concerns: Ignoring cracks can lead to structural instability and eventual collapse.
- Prevent Moisture Intrusion: Cracks allow water infiltration, accelerating deterioration and structural issues.
- Evade Fire Hazards: A compromised chimney is in danger of tipping over, and it’s a fire hazard.
- Cost-Efficiency: Early intervention is often less expensive than late-stage repairs.
- Boost Home Value: Maintaining your chimney enhances your property value.
Ohio Basement Systems addresses chimney issues with specialized, proprietary solutions for long-lasting repair and stabilization.
Contact Ohio Basement Systems for Permanent Chimney Stabilization Solutions
A cracked or leaning chimney can quickly become a safety hazard, threatening your home and family. Don’t avoid repairs if your chimney is damaged; contact Ohio Basement Systems today for assistance.
We provide a free, no-obligation inspection to evaluate your home and recommend the best repair solutions. Trust Ohio Basement Systems for all your chimney and foundation repair needs.
While it’s possible to patch minor cracks, DIY repairs are temporary bandages that can be complex, unsafe, and expensive in the long run. We recommend a professional evaluation for a permanent solution. Contact Ohio Basement Systems today to book a free inspection.
The sooner, the better. Ignoring the issue can lead to additional cracking, damage, and severe consequences, including complete chimney collapse. Contact Ohio Basement Systems when you notice problems like chimney cracks or leaning.
We use helical piers or push piers, depending on the specific conditions of your foundation and soil. Contact us today for a free assessment and customized repair plan.