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CROSS Safety Report

Gallows brackets for supporting chimney breasts

Report ID: 481 Published: 1 October 2015 Region: CROSS-UK

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A reporter has seen suggestions that gallows brackets are suitable for support after the removal of internal chimney breasts.

Key Learning Outcomes

For domestic clients and builders:

  • It is good practice to consult with building control prior to undertaking works such as removing internal chimney stacks, as these works may need approval 

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A reporter has seen suggestions that gallows brackets are suitable for support after the removal of internal chimney breasts. This is concerning, they say, because many building control authorities no longer accept them as a suitable way of supporting a retained chimney stack. They may give the enthusiastic DIYer or an inexperienced builder a false sense of security.

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These issues should be picked up by building control, however where trade documentation indicates to the unwary person that it is suitable, they may be tempted to believe they do not need to involve building control at all. Potential problems include:

  • Fixing to existing brickwork of unknown quality

  • Local forces on the brickwork 

  • The possible loss of stability from removal of a chimney breast

The situation is quite similar to the use of ‘dummy’ masonry chimney stacks on new build residential properties which are often incorporated as a feature to meet planning requirements. Gallow brackets may be acceptable in these circumstances, but only where the bracket and supporting wall have been designed by a suitably qualified engineer to cater for the load and eccentricity. 

The preferred option is an arrangement of horizontal beams in the roof space to provide support to the chimney breast and cheeks. There are a number of items sold to the public which can lead to safety concerns due to inadequate instruction or technical knowledge.

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