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I inspected a fourplex about four weeks ago. One unit had a wood burning fireplace with vertical cracks on the exterior chimney. Could someone explain to me what might have caused these cracks? (the fourplex was built back in 1973)

Most of the cracks that I saw were vertical in nature on at least two sides of the chimney. The cracks tended to outline the flue area. The seller is going to have the chimney torn down to the roof line and rebuilt. What should the contractor do differently to prevent the cracks from reoccurring in the future?

On the third picture, the layers of block appear to be at different heights on two different sides. Would this contribute to potential future problems when they go to rebuild the chimney?


Jeff Euriech

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It looks like a pre-cast concrete unit. I can't remember the name of the company that made them but they were prone to exactly that failure.

Thanks, Chad. Pre-cast concrete explains it all, including the mismatch of the mortar lines.

That thing won't come down without a fight, tho. [:)]

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That's a Rampart General pre-cast fireplace and chimney. These were monolithic castings poured into a flat mold, cured, then stood up on site by a crane. They have rebar in the corners, which expands when rusted called "rust/ oxide jacking" or similar terms. If you look at the calcium aluminate breast plate, you will see it cracked as well if it has ever been used. This has been thoroughly invested by Dale Feb who met with the engineer who designed it along with the City of LA and there is NO acceptable field repair. You must teat the entire chimney and fireplace down, just as Dale did in his own house, and replace it from scratch. BTW, his old unit is in his training lab in Simi Valley. Dale teaches pre-cast fireplaces as one module in his Certified Fireplace and Chimney Inspector course.

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