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CFI with level on foundation in West Virginia

Leaning Chimney

A leaning chimney is a serious foundation problem that can lead to extremely high repair costs, which is why it’s important to catch the problem before it gets out of hand and your chimney rips away from your home.

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One of the heaviest components of your home, your chimney has both practical and aesthetic properties. Operating as a funnel for fireplace smoke, chimneys are often constructed of brick, which helps them stand out. If your chimney is leaning in any way, you should seek the guidance of professionals like Basement Authority of West Virginia.

What Causes a Leaning Chimney

A cracking, leaning chimney can be caused by a variety of factors, but most of them boil down to the soil underneath the chimney. Here are some of the most common reasons for chimney damage.

Foundation Settlement

One of the leading causes of a chimney that is leaning and pulling away from the home is foundation settlement. Soil settlement causes foundations to sink into the surrounding area. As a consequence, other concrete or brick structures in your home will begin to shift and crack. Because of the inflexibility of brick and stone, cracks in the upper masonry parts of a brick or stone home indicate a settled foundation. This will become extremely evident as your chimney cracks, and then eventually pulls away from your home.

cracking exterior foundation

Unstable, Expansive Soils

Even though the state soil of West Virginia is Monongahela silt loam, it nevertheless contains clay in select regions. Clay soils, which are known as “expansive soils,” do not filter out water quickly, which is why they easily become saturated with water. Expansive soils absorb water and cause them to expand when wet and contract when dry. When wet, clay that absorbs water can expand by at least 10 percent. Expanding soil can exert enough pressure on a foundation to cause it to shift and settle, leading to other parts of your home – like your chimney – to become damaged.

Poor Drainage

Believe it or not, improper drainage can affect your home all the way to your chimney. Inadequate drainage may lead to soil saturation in the areas surrounding your home. Soil instability around your home’s foundation may be caused by excessive soil moisture. Many homeowners have attempted to remedy the issue of standing water on their property with French drains and water runoff systems, for example. However, drainage systems may occasionally be insufficient to prevent foundation damage such as settlement. Once your foundation has sunk unevenly due to water problems, drainage systems will not be able to prevent further damage.


Leaving your chimney leaning is more than just an eyesore, it makes your home and the areas surrounding your chimney a liability. If your chimney continues to lean, it can eventually collapse, causing colossal damage that can cost much, much more than if you had repaired the problems causing the chimney to lean in the first place. A leaning chimney also means that the chimney will not function properly, putting your family at risk of dangerous smoke inhalation. So, yes, you must take action if notice damage – even cracks – to your chimney.

Chimneys are difficult to manage. Managing a chimney normally requires several specialized tools and frequently more than one person. Because it’s unlikely that you have technical chimney-moving tools and you’re probably not considering how your friends or neighbors can help, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to do anything about the damage to your chimney. The demand for heavy equipment and specialized skills may not appear insurmountable, but there is also the question of safety to consider. You cannot safely perform structural repairs on an unstable chimney shaft in the absence of specialized equipment and training to assist you to anticipate and manage the related dangers.

Cracking chimney bricks is unnecessary. It may seem inevitable, but this issue isn’t. Make sure you avoid chimney problems before they arise. The earlier you avoid difficulties, the easier it will be to solve them. As soon as you spot a chimney problem, call a pro. Many things can be done, but you may need to undertake a more thorough inspection of the chimney whenever possible. Inspections are a good approach to know what’s happening, and Foundation Systems of West Virginia provides foundation inspections for free. 

Call Us For A Free Foundation Inspection 

If you realize that your chimney is leaning in any way, it’s time to contact Basement Authority of West Virginia. Our knowledgeable personnel will evaluate your property for indicators of foundation settlement. These inspections and repair estimates are completely free and no-obligation to you. We are pleased to serve communities including Charleston, Huntington, Wheeling, Morgantown, and nearby. Because we are locally based, we have a great understanding of how the hot and humid summers, mild and rainy winters, and unstable area soil all impact your foundation. Contact us soon to ensure the safety of your house!

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Clarksburg, WV

1807 West Pike Street Ste C
Clarksburg, WV 26301