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Dangerous Chimney Dilemna

 
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Old 10-22-2008, 02:46 PM   #1
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Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


My clients chimney has pulled away from the house by about 6" at the roof line. It appears the house has settled away from the chimney. The house sits on a steep hill and the chimney is unreinforced brick with a stucco veneer. She is also located on the Hayward Fault.

The client is adamant about keeping her chimney working. I was going to remove the flue to the firebox and put a stainless pipe up so the chimney could still work, but the permitting office is no longer issuing permits to rebuild wood burning chimneys due to woodsmoke concerns.

Now I have concluded that the only course of action is to strap the flue to the house and pray. This will prevent the chimney from tumbling into the adjacent house and hopefully make it just a big pile of bricks during an earthquake. Strapping does bring up one more concern though which is if the house continues to move will it actually break the chimney and cause premature failure.

Anyone with any experience have an opinion or alternative, I would love to hear it.

Thanks

Joe
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Old 10-22-2008, 02:55 PM   #2
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


If you are not an engineer and willing to accept the liability, you should only follow the plans developed by one in this situation. In other words, why risk your business and others lives on something like this?

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Old 10-22-2008, 03:14 PM   #3
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


Sorry man, not touching this one. There is a reason why the permitting office doesn't want to fool with chimneys anymore and I don't want to either.

I would almost offer to tear it down for them free of charge if it was something that I remotely felt could ever come back to me. If they insist they use it, make them sign a release form freeing yourself from liability. If they don't want to do that, make sure you have it well documented that you have explained the danger. Loosing one customer is small compared to causing injury, death, or damage.
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Old 10-22-2008, 04:24 PM   #4
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


Run forest run!

If you strap that moving house to the chimney you will be responsible when the house pulls on it. With any luck the damage would be gradual and noticed before bricks start falling. But a tremor might pull it down fast.

You may have heard about the Scouts who were killed when a Tornado hit their camp in Iowa. It was a falling chimney that killed them. Different situation I know but you know the house is moving and if you tie it to that chimney eventually gravity will win.
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Old 10-22-2008, 07:26 PM   #5
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


If the house has settled away from the chimney, that's a darn good chimney footing.
How old is this chimney? I can't believe it's not tied into the house.
Tear it down, new footing. The only way I would do it.
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Old 10-22-2008, 08:47 PM   #6
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


Quote:
Originally Posted by CJKarl View Post
If the house has settled away from the chimney, that's a darn good chimney footing.
How old is this chimney? I can't believe it's not tied into the house.
Tear it down, new footing. The only way I would do it.
Really? The house is moving away from the chimney and the answer is to chase the house with the chimney?

I think you need to tell your client to take her big girl pills and realize that she is not living in a movement free world. The house is settling away from the chimney and its not going to get better with straps, or new footings or even aroma therapy.

Take the chimney down, put in a gas fireplace and build something that won't kill the neighbors the next time someone orgasms and the earth moves.
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Old 10-22-2008, 08:54 PM   #7
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


For sure an engineer is required here to make a certain assessment.

But, if as you say, the house is settling away from the chimney and the chimney remains straight, wouldn't you want to address the problem in the house? A well built chimney doesn't need a house to hold it up and shouldn't be asked to support a settling house.

I wouldn't touch it without an engineer telling me what to do. JMO.

My father in law used to talk about houses built in the 1940's, including his, where the first thing after the foundation was build the chimney. Some houses lagged the chimnies by many months.

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Old 10-22-2008, 08:56 PM   #8
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


Quote:
its not going to get better with straps, or new footings or even aroma therapy.

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its not going to get better with straps, or new footings or even aroma therapy.
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Old 10-22-2008, 09:16 PM   #9
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


California (our area) is doing everything under the sun to eliminate wood burning appliances. I am remodeling a house in Sonoma, it was approved by the county for me to extend the chimney since I was raising the roof. Just today during the inspection I was told to install an insert or remove the whole thing, I called the office and will see what they decide tomorrow. If they insist I remove it, I will fight them.

This is the selling feature of the house and I refuse to lose it.
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Old 10-22-2008, 09:17 PM   #10
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


I can clearly see why there are so many problems in CA.

Simply strap it with a rubber strap and change it yearly!!
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Old 10-22-2008, 10:12 PM   #11
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


I thought every house in Cali was a teardown for a McMansion anyway?! Oh wait, that was before reality set in.
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Old 10-22-2008, 10:53 PM   #12
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tscarborough View Post
I thought every house in Cali was a teardown for a McMansion anyway?! Oh wait, that was before reality set in.

That's only in neighborhoods such as Beverly Hills, Malibu, Atherton and the likes
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Old 10-23-2008, 09:34 PM   #13
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


Quote:
Originally Posted by cleveman View Post
I can clearly see why there are so many problems in CA.

Simply strap it with a rubber strap and change it yearly!!
Yeah good heavy duty bungee chords.
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Old 10-23-2008, 10:44 PM   #14
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


I found a solution to my dilemma and the building department can't say anything, it is legal, no permit required and keeps me within building code

check it out...

http://www.extendaflue.com/

Others may want to use this as well

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Old 10-27-2008, 01:24 PM   #15
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


Was this a traditional masonry fireplace and chimney or a simple wrap around a steel fireplace?

Just thought I'd mention if it was a traditional fireplace... if the chimney has separated from the house about 6" at the top then I will guarantee that the seal between the facing material and the chimney has separated as well.

This can make for a very dangerous fire situation and should be addressed if you plan on touching the chimney at all.

Look above the damper into the smoke chamber area for separation cracks between the firebox plane and the facing plane. It should be visible there.
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Old 10-30-2008, 07:08 AM   #16
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


Quote:
Originally Posted by The Boss View Post
My clients chimney has pulled away from the house by about 6" at the roof line. It appears the house has settled away from the chimney. The house sits on a steep hill and the chimney is unreinforced brick with a stucco veneer. She is also located on the Hayward Fault.

The client is adamant about keeping her chimney working. I was going to remove the flue to the firebox and put a stainless pipe up so the chimney could still work, but the permitting office is no longer issuing permits to rebuild wood burning chimneys due to woodsmoke concerns.

Now I have concluded that the only course of action is to strap the flue to the house and pray. This will prevent the chimney from tumbling into the adjacent house and hopefully make it just a big pile of bricks during an earthquake. Strapping does bring up one more concern though which is if the house continues to move will it actually break the chimney and cause premature failure.

Anyone with any experience have an opinion or alternative, I would love to hear it.

Thanks

Joe
tricky but if she is adamant bout the chimney why not tear down and fix right? no permitts needed to take a few block off and straighten the chimney at least not in michigan
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Old 10-30-2008, 08:12 PM   #17
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


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tricky but if she is adamant bout the chimney why not tear down and fix right? no permitts needed to take a few block off and straighten the chimney at least not in michigan
i got it!!tear down the house,leaving the chimney.then rebuild the house on a better foundation!
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Old 11-02-2008, 09:37 PM   #18
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


use a come-along and pull the house back to the chimney
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Old 12-10-2008, 12:07 PM   #19
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


Thanks for all of the interesting feedback. I think the best thing to do is follow the advice of the first few posters and run like hell. And yes for those of you who didn't believe me, the house is settling away from the chimney.
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Old 12-10-2008, 02:19 PM   #20
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Re: Dangerous Chimney Dilemna


Forget about the chimney. I would be more worried about how the house was able to move 6" friggin inches away from the chimney. something is wrong with the house and that should be looked into.

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