Photograph of a curved chimney separating from a building, viewed from outside (C) Daniel Friedman Causes of Curved Brick Chimneys - Inspection, Diagnosis, Repair
     

  • CURVED BRICK CHIMNEYS, SULPHATION - CONTENTS: What causes curving of brick chimneys above the roof?
    • Are curved chimneys in danger of collapse or do they have unsafe flues?
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about the cause, importance, safety concerns, and repairs for curved chimneys and flues - what is sulphation, what causes a brick chimney to curve or lean?
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Curved chimneys & sulphation: this article describes the cause, inspection, and evaluation of curved chimneys. Often a brick chimney is visibly curved or leaning above the building roof line.

If the cause is sulphation it is well understood, but further inspection of the chimney flue and the chimney stability are in order since a badly damaged brick chimney may have an unsafe flue or may collapse. Our page top photo shows a curved brick chimney above the rooftop of a home in Hudson, NY. Look closely at the left edge of the brick chimney to best see this deformation.

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Curved Brick Chimneys - Sulphation

Photograph of a curved chimney separating from a building, viewed from outside. Photograph of a damaged unsafe brick chimney viewed from outside.

These articles on chimneys and chimney safety provide detailed suggestions describing how to perform a thorough visual inspection of chimneys for safety and other defects. Chimney inspection methods and chimney repair methods are also discussed.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Causes of curved chimneys (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

Curves or bending in brick masonry chimneys are common on older homes and may not be evidence of actual chimney settlement or movement.

[Click to enlarge any image]

A brick chimney may curve away from its most weather-exposed side due to sulphation: a term which describes expanding brick mortar joints caused by the combination of water and sulphur or other minerals.

As Carson Dunlop's sketch points out, curved chimneys seen above the roof line often are found in northern climates where:

  • The masonry chimney has an un-lined flue
  • The heating fuel was oil or coal containing high levels of sulphur
  • The chimney is tall

A curved brick flue may might need repair or replacement but it's not certain. The flue interior needs to be inspected thoroughly for damage and stability.

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