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  1. #1
    Brenda Moore's Avatar
    Brenda Moore Guest

    Default Support of Chimney

    My house was built in 1996 under the 1994 Standard Building Code. I just had my roof replaced and my roofer is telling me that my chimney is not supported correctly. The fireplace is prefab with a brick exterior. The roofer says the brick facing the roof is sitting on a 2 X 4 and is not stable. My builder (who I tracked down) says there was no code requiring a lintel.

    Can anyone verify what the code was at that time? Do I have any recourse against my builder?

    Thanks,
    Brenda

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    My initial impression is that you would have a tough road going after the builder due to the length of time. His obvious (yet lame) defense is that the AHJ (likely the county inspector) passed and approved the installation at the time.

    Also, the above is assuming there is a problem.... roofer's are definitely not masons or framers. The best thing you can do is get some more opinions on the situation. If it's lasted 16 years it's unlikely that it will fall down anytime soon.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    I agree with Matt.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  4. #4
    Brenda Moore's Avatar
    Brenda Moore Guest

    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    The builder has agreed to come out and look at the chimney (not holding my breath that he actually will). His argument is that it wasn't code to put in angle iron at the time. (Since it is a prefab fireplace with brick exterior, the building inspector said it would fall under exterior brick support as opposed to chimney guidelines.) Does anyone know if this is true? I've had no luck finding a place I can read what the codes were in 1996 without paying $80 for a download.

    The chimney moves with pressure and there are multiple mortar cracks. The roofer is coming back to do a water test on the brick. There is a leak somewhere in the chimney (either brick or cap). At this point, the interior plywook is most likely rotted.

    Thanks for the feedback,
    Brenda


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    Quote Originally Posted by Brenda Moore View Post
    The builder has agreed to come out and look at the chimney (not holding my breath that he actually will). His argument is that it wasn't code to put in angle iron at the time. (Since it is a prefab fireplace with brick exterior, the building inspector said it would fall under exterior brick support as opposed to chimney guidelines.) Does anyone know if this is true? I've had no luck finding a place I can read what the codes were in 1996 without paying $80 for a download.

    The chimney moves with pressure and there are multiple mortar cracks. The roofer is coming back to do a water test on the brick. There is a leak somewhere in the chimney (either brick or cap). At this point, the interior plywook is most likely rotted.

    Thanks for the feedback,
    Brenda
    Brenda, my guess and this is only a guess without photos it is hard to tell you much but with the added information you just provided........

    It sounds like the brickwork is being supported on a wood frame chase that has been built out of the roof. Does it come up the side of the home or does it just stick out of the roof?

    If it is just sticking out of the roof then the support for the structure would need to come from the attic area in the way of some beefed up framing to support the weight from the bricks. I have seen several brick chimneys like I just described fall off the roof of a home due to the lack of proper support.

    If you can push on the chimney and it moves then it is a problem and with some additional time, gravity and wind will remove it for you..

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    Brenda,

    The Brick Industry Association has a wealth of information. Not sure if it is applicable to your specific case, but it is worth giving a try.

    Brick Industry Association - BIA

    Department of Redundancy Department
    http://www.FullCircleInspect.com/

  7. #7
    Brenda Moore's Avatar
    Brenda Moore Guest

    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    Sorry... this is the only picture I have on this computer that shows the chimney. It's an external chimney. 3 sides are brick going up the outside of the house. The 4th side which faces the roof line has brick which starts about 4 inches below the roof line. This 4th side is sitting on a 2 X 4, not angle iron.

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    Quote Originally Posted by Brenda Moore View Post
    Sorry... this is the only picture I have on this computer that shows the chimney. It's an external chimney. 3 sides are brick going up the outside of the house. The 4th side which faces the roof line has brick which starts about 4 inches below the roof line. This 4th side is sitting on a 2 X 4, not angle iron.
    I see many that are built without angle iron and they do not move. With that design I would be concerned with what water has done to the underlying supporting framing. Again, it should not move if you push on it.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    Quote Originally Posted by Brenda Moore View Post
    My house was built in 1996 under the 1994 Standard Building Code. I just had my roof replaced and my roofer is telling me that my chimney is not supported correctly. The fireplace is prefab with a brick exterior. The roofer says the brick facing the roof is sitting on a 2 X 4 and is not stable. My builder (who I tracked down) says there was no code requiring a lintel.

    Can anyone verify what the code was at that time? Do I have any recourse against my builder?

    Thanks,
    Brenda
    I doubt you would have any recourse against the builder due to the time that has passed, 15 years is way beyond any standard warranty, etc. that I have heard of. The three sides of your chimney that are supported from the ground should prevent any movement but time to get someone with knowledge and no partisan interest out to look at it. Whether or not it was built to code or if the code changed it a moot point now, time to fix it or get reassured if it is not a problem.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    Ask your roofer if there is a cricket where the roof meets the chimney. He should know what that is, and there should be one.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  11. #11
    Brenda Moore's Avatar
    Brenda Moore Guest

    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    Yes, there is a cricket.

    Thanks,
    Brenda


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    Whether or not you can sue him for anything would depend on your applicable State laws. I suggest you talk to your attorney.
    I would go after it as an original structural deficiency. It should be easy enough to get an Arch or SE to write up a 2x4 as not being structurally sufficient to carry to load of a brick chimney. However since we don't know whether this is full course brick, face brick or what the overall framing is, we don't really know what the load is.
    Whether the support is Code compliant or not is a secondary issue. Is it safe and is the install per approved Plans? Since the house isn't that old and you were able to get ahold of the builder, you should try to get a hold of a set of plans for the original build.
    If you can push on it and it moves, there's a problem. If there are recurring cracks there is a problem. Does the chimney have a foundation of its own, how the structure supported, how is the grading, are there signs of erosion along the base. Repeated movement gets caused by something. Granted it could all be from ongoing past roof leaks.
    I would suggest hiring an experienced HI to come out and do an assessment. An Arch or SE would also be appropriate but more expensive. The roofer could be overblowing the situation.
    You can apparently afford two horses and a boat, crying about $80 for a Code book that may help remedy your situation won't win you any friends.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    You can apparently afford two horses and a boat, crying about $80 for a Code book that may help remedy your situation won't win you any friends.
    Not cool, Markus.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  14. #14
    Brenda Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    Thanks for the feedback. I do have a set of blueprints for the house, so I will dig those out tonight. The house is built on chirt/rock ground. It is actually not located where planned because they were going to have to bring in dynamite to take out the last 10 feet of rock. As a result, we opted to have it built a little further forward than planned. There is no evidence of brick cracking/shifting/wear below the roof line. (The actual house is over a poured wall basement, but the chimney is outside the basement walls).

    You are correct, that I could "afford" the book, but was hoping I could get the one page of information I need without purchasing it. Scraping together all the pennies I can in case I have to pay for a chimney rebuild. (Did I mention I just got a new roof?)

    And sadly, we no longer own the (1986) boat.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Not cool, Markus.
    Agreed...

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    Agreed, it is a snarky comment. I tend to get irked when people are penny wise and pound foolish. Brenda's clarification is noted.
    I deal with clients regularly who just don't get it. 'Please Mr. Client hire a good licensed electrician this time, he can do the job safe and compliant, your family lives in the house'. Mr Client: 'Oh, no those real electricians charge too much, this guy is just as good even though he may not do all that picky stuff you talk about just right'.
    Of course earlier in the conversation I had to hear about how happy he was with his new $100K car.
    Stupid priorities, who needs um.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Support of Chimney

    Brenda,

    In the end the "cheapest" solution is to bypass engineers, home inspectors, & (especially) lawyers, and just pay a good mason to fix it. (Assuming it needs fixing, of course...)


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