In the wake of the eathquake that rattled the middle of the country on Saturday, the Midwest Chimney Safety Council has issued a warning about potential damages to masonry chimneys.
Masonry chimneys are particularly susceptible to damage by earthquake. Due to the nature of their rigid structure masonry chimneys are likely to crack while being shaken by a tremblor. Areas that can be damaged are mortar joints inside and out, bricks, stones, flue liners, fireplaces, smoke chambers, and interior facial walls.
As a matter of precaution, the MCSC suggests that homeowners inspect their chimney immediately after an earthquake, both inside and out, then call a professional chimney sweep to do a more thorough inspection with a chimney camera system and a keen eye trained to find things others may miss.
- Look for obvious fresh clean breaks in the mortar, bricks or stone on the exterior chimney and foundation
- See if there are any pieces of masonry lying on the ground or on the roof.
- Check the facial wall inside the house above and around the fireplace opening and note any fresh breaks
- Examine the brick firebox (fireplace) and look for fresh cracks
- Take photos of your findings and note the date and time
- Have a professional chimney sweep examine the interior smoke chamber and flue liner for any fireplaces or the flue liner for the utility flue, and the entire exterior chimney after an earthquake using an internal camera inspection system
Cracks in the flue or smoke chamber can allow deadly carbon monoxide to enter the interior of the house or building. CO is odorless, tasteless, and silent. CO alarms do not alert occupants if the air being checked is less than 9 ppm (parts per million), and it is known that low levels of carbon monoxide can cause long term irreversible brain damage. Visit here for more information on carbon monoxide.
Homeowner's insurance will cover the cost of repairs. After having the chimney inspected send your written report with photos and estimate to your insurance adjuster.
To find a professional to inspect your masonry chimney visit the Midwest Chimney Safety Council website.