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What Causes Chimney Leaning?

Some people think a leaning chimney gives the house character, but if your chimney tilts — even a little — it’s a dangerous situation. You must repair it immediately. There are many reasons a chimney might lean, in this blog post, we’ll look at the most common, why it’s so dangerous, and what you can do about it.

Causes of Chimney Tilting

As mentioned, there are many reasons your chimney may tilt; however, we’ve discovered these are the most common.

  • Leaning Chimney Repair Poor Construction
    • Let’s be honest; not all builders have the same skills or competence levels. Sometimes, masons cut corners or use inferior materials when constructing a chimney causing it to break down more quickly than it should.
    • Besides tilting, poor construction leads to other damage, including water ingress, failing mortar joints, and crumbling brickwork.
  • Wear & Tear
    • Without routine maintenance, weather and usage take their toll on your chimney. Over time, water seeps into the masonry, freezes, and thaws, loosening the mortar joints. Once sections of the brickwork fall away, it causes the entire structure becomes unstable.
  • Poor or No Footing
    • A chimney needs a solid cement footing to keep it stable. Unfortunately, many older homes were constructed without a proper base, leading to the structure to tilt under its weight.
    • Furthermore, if the chimney footing is too narrow or shallow, the chimney’s weight causes the footing to crack. Once compromised, the cracked foundation eventually gives way, causing the entire structure to lean.
  • Soil Shifting
    Another common problem is when the chimney footing is constructed on poor soil.

Dangers of a Leaning Chimney

Even if it doesn’t seem like your chimney is about to topple, it doesn’t mean you can ignore it. Slight chimney tilting puts tremendous strain on your house and can lead to significant structural damage if you don’t deal with the issue as soon as possible. The average chimney weighs several thousand pounds, and the amount of pressure it puts on your home as it leans can cause damage to the chimney’s interior lining, your home’s structure, and your fireplace.

Another danger of a leaning chimney comes from the gap that develops as it pulls away from the house. The open gap between your chimney and the siding allows water and pests to get in, creating an unhealthy situation for you and your family. Lastly, there’s the danger of toppling bricks. As the chimney tilt worsens, bricks can break away and fall onto, and possibly through, your roof. Because of these dangers, you must be proactive if you suspect your chimney is tilting. Many people think a leaning chimney is an optical illusion, but it’s always best to call a professional chimney repair service for an inspection to be safe.

How to Repair A Leaning Chimney

If you suspect your chimney is tilting, the first thing to do is to call a professional contractor to examine the structure and determine if any damage has occurred. Depending on the cause and the extent of the damage, there are several options the mason has available to solve the problem.

In certain situations, it’s possible to strap the chimney to the house to stabilize it; however, this won’t work when the cause of the lean is within the foundation.

Helical Piers
Another option contractors have to fix a leaning chimney is installing helical piers. These foundation piers go deep in the ground, and a bracket attaches to the chimney’s foundation.

Installing helical piers stabilizes the chimney, prevents further leaning, and can often be used to restore the structure to its original position.


If the chimney is beyond repair, the only option might be to rebuild it completely. The best way to stay on top of chimney repairs is to call a professional chimney sweep for annual cleaning, maintenance, and inspection.

About Mercer County Chimney Services

Mercer County Chimney Services is a licensed, insured chimney sweep and repair company serving Hamilton, NJ, and Mercer County residents. We specialize in chimney cleaning and repairs and installing new fireplaces, stoves, and inserts to provide you with maximum comfort and efficiency. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at 609-802-5288 or fill out our online form.