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Levitated Chimney?


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Something a little different...

1907 bungalow, post and beam foundation. The brick furnace chimney extends as normal through an 8:12 roof.

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In horrible condition inside and out...gas wall furnace venting into it...but that's another story.

What I have never seen before is that approximately 16' of brick chimney just ends about 3 to 4' off the floor.

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The walls back and side of the chimney appear to be normal thickness (no hidden cavities) and are located roughly over the central 6 x 6 beam in the crawl, but there is no other or special support down there either. I imagine it's been like this for all 99 years...but can it be right? All that weight somehow being supported by a corner of the stud walls?

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I regularly find chimneys that aren't directly supported by the earth. The ones that were originally built that way were usually installed for venting a coal cook stove in the kitchen. They are always keyed into a masonry wall.

The one in the photo might have had an amputation. The wrinkles in the left wall could be a sign that it has had enough of the extra load. I would sure expect to find a patch in the floor below that chimney.

I get a lot of buildings with multiple chimneys. It's easy to loose track of them throughout the interior. I make it a point to locate each one passing through every level. It's surprising how many abandoned chimneys still extend through the roof but have had a significant portion removed on the interior.

They're not always this easy to find:

http://uploads/inspecthistoric/200672521130_chimshort.JPG%20

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I haven't made up my mind how to report it. The whole chimney probably needs rebuilding anyway. This is a tenant looking to buy the house from the landlord. One of the first things she tell me is that when the furnace is on all the windows steam up. I suspect backdrafting. I can see rubble from the top and when I'm in the attic I see a new connection has been made to the chimney above the old one.

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A little more interrogation of the tenant and it turns out that the original flue was blocked during that time. Anyway, I'll probably just defer to the mason or HVAC guy (a metal flue through the roof would make more sense than a rebuild).

Just saw Bill's post. No signs of a patch or old footing in the crawl (may have been under the moisture barrier but I doubt it). The wrinkle seemed to just be a blister in the paper over the lathe and plaster. The home had quite a few of those.

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My home had four chimneys built on shelves that were not keyed to masonry walls. Two were 30 feet high. They were literally pulling down the floors and against my wife's wishes I assisted gravity and nature to aid their descent to earth and their ultimate plan of once again becomming dirt.

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Originally posted by Richard Moore

. . . The walls back and side of the chimney appear to be normal thickness (no hidden cavities) and are located roughly over the central 6 x 6 beam in the crawl, but there is no other or special support down there either. I imagine it's been like this for all 99 years...but can it be right? All that weight somehow being supported by a corner of the stud walls?

Geez, I see these all the time. Probably every pre-20s house in my area has one or more of these things. I figured it'd be the same in your area.

They're *never* keyed into masonry here, just wood-frame walls. (I think that only those effete easterners used masonry to support their mid-story chimneys then. We hearty pioneers believed in the strength of wood.)

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Never seen it before. Of course, most of the pre-20s homes I see have basements with "regular" furnaces down there.

I reported it as "unusual" and deferred to the mason needed for the rebuild but, there was so much other stuff wrong with this fixer rental home that the tenants informed me they would be looking elsewhere before they even got the report. Still seems like a crap idea even if it is "common" elsewhere.

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