CROSS Safety Report
Inadequate chimney support
This report is over 2 years old
The supports for a domestic chimney had been removed which left a 2.5m high chimney stack almost unsupported and in a potentially dangerous state.
Key Learning Outcomes
For homeowners and builders:
Structural alterations should not be made without them being assessed and approved by a suitably qualified and experienced engineer
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During the refurbishment of an Edwardian single family dwelling a reporter found that the supporting chimney breasts had been removed and replaced with inadequate gallows brackets in the roof space above eaves level. The substantial 2.5m high chimney stack was left almost unsupported and in a potentially dangerous state (Figure 1).
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Many building control officers will be familiar with cases such as this where the structural significance of a masonry component has been ignored and there is a risk of consequential collapse. Deterioration of the exposed mortar over time, high wind loads, or even a very minor seismic shock could topple the chimney and deposit several tonnes of debris into the house. This illustrates the need for competence and supports the view that any structural alteration works should be assessed by a structural engineer.