We’ve all heard the song about Santa getting stuck up the chimney…but have you ever stopped to think about the damage that could be caused if such an event really occurred?!

There are several issues that can be uncovered with chimneys, particularly in older houses. Here we look at some of the common problems we have encountered when undertaking surveys of properties clients are looking to buy.

Unsupported chimney stacks

Older properties were often constructed with one or more chimneys, with fireplaces in rooms throughout the house acting as the main source of heat. Over the years, central heating will have been installed in the vast majority of houses, leaving fireplaces and the chimneys above them largely redundant in function. In some properties, the decision may have been made to remove the fireplace or chimney stack to achieve more useable floor space. If this is detected in a survey, special attention will need to be paid to the structural support put in place when the chimney breast was taken away. In some cases, support works are not carried out, leaving the chimney stack above it unsupported, or with insufficient support, risking potential collapse to the heavy masonry above it. Adding support in retrospectively can be costly, especially if some of the masonry has already started to slip. It is always a good idea to have an assessment conducted in such cases to get an idea of the potential cost of works.

Weather damage

Chimneys are the part of the house that are most exposed to severe weather. After prolonged exposure to storms, frost and heavy rainfall over several decades, damage to brickwork, pointing, flashings, and flaunchings can occur. This can lead to the chimney leaning to one side, which can further develop into a collapse of the chimney over time.

Sulphate attack

Sulphate attack is another of the most common problems affecting chimney stacks. When fuels are burned in a chimney, this can lead to the formation of hygroscopic salts can form within the mortar and expand. This can lead to damage of the structure of the chimney over time.

The lessons that can be taken from the above are:

  1. Encourage Santa to use his magic key and come in through the front door
  2. Have a survey that covers the roof and chimneys when buying an older property!

To speak to one of our Chartered Surveyors about instructing a survey, be it a Building Survey Report on an older property or a RICS Homebuyer Report on a newer property, please get in touch to discuss your options.

Preston Office
Telephone: 01772 458866
Blackburn Office
Telephone: 01254 260196
Clitheroe Office
Telephone: 01200 320040
Lancaster Office
Telephone: 01524 899850
Manchester Office
Telephone: 0161 265 0070
Lea Hough is a trading name of Lea Hough & Co LLP, which is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales under partnership number OC306054.
Registered Office: Oakshaw House, 2 Capricorn Park, Blakewater Road, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 5QR