Photograph of a loose chimney. Bracing & Lateral Support Requirements for Tall Masonry Chimneys
     

  • BRACING for MASONRY CHIMNEYS - CONTENTS: When is bracing needed for tall masonry chimneys?
    • How to support loose, wobbly chimneys with ties to the building structure
    • Lateral support for masonry chimneys: connecting a brick or concrete block to the building structure
  • CHIMNEY REPAIR METHODS - separate article
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about the requirement for bracing tall chimneys along a building exterior wall or above the rooftop: why bracing is needed, how it should be installed, chimney bracing specifications, codes
  • REFERENCES

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Chimney bracing & support: this article describes when and how support is added to tall masonry flues along the building exterior wall or above the roof-line.

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Bracing Requirements for Masonry Chimneys

Photograph of a loose chimney.Bracing may be required for chimneys that extend high above the roof line. Lateral support may be required to tie a chimney to the building structure. When these supports are missing, even a chimney set on a solid foundation may tip, wobble, or separate from the building it serves.

Loose wobbly masonry chimneys may be missing both lateral support (ties to the building wall) and rooftop support (Carson Dunlop's sketch, below right).

The chimney in our photo (above left) rocked and nearly fell over when we leaned on it a bit while climbing onto this roof.

Pushing gently on a tall flue like this should not produce easy movement.

But be careful! Don't try this at home and certainly not when there are people below, or when the flue is in use or probably any other time. A good wind could blow this chimney down.

 

Chimney bracing sketches below are provided courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.

 

Lateral support for chimneys on building exterior (C) Carson Dunlop Associates Masonry chimney brace at rooftop (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

If the flue were intact and there was no other damage it might be possible to secure the chimney against movement. An expert was needed to decide how to make this one safe.

Lateral Support Requirements for Masonry Chimneys

In our photo (above left) the loose wobbly brick chimney was not supported at the roof and was not connected to the building - hence it moved easily and was in danger of collapse.

Chimneys built on the exterior of a building need lateral support every twelve feet of height as they pass up the building wall - shown in Carson Dunlop's sketch.

In earthquake and high wind areas additional chimney support may be required by local codes, including reinforcement within the masonry structure of the chimney itself.

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