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CROSS Safety Report

Inadequate chimney support

Report ID: 131 Published: 1 April 2009 Region: CROSS-UK

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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

Full Report

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The Full Report below has been submitted to CROSS and describes the reporter’s experience. The text has been edited for clarity and to ensure anonymity and confidentiality by removing any identifiable details. If you would like to know more about our secure reporting process or submit a report yourself, please visit the reporting to CROSS-UK page.


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).

Figure 1: unsupported chimney

Expert Panel Comments

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Expert Panels comment on the reports we receive. They use their experience to help you understand what can be learned from the reports. If you would like to know more, please visit the CROSS-UK Expert Panels page.

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.

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