5 Steps – How to Inspect Chimney After Earthquake

A worker inspecting the top of a chimney

Number one rule, if you experience an earthquake do a chimney inspection right away.

Earthquakes can cause hidden damage that compromises the stability of your chimney, even if your house looks intact.

The basic foundation of our homes is tested when an earthquake happens and structures swing. Therefore it is easy to overlook some parts of the house including the chimney.

To ensure the structural stability and safety of your chimney, it is essential to do a comprehensive chimney inspection.

5 Steps on How to Inspect Your Chimney After an Earthquake


Step #1: Wear Safety Gears

Before starting an inspection, make sure that you are wearing safety gear such as gloves and a dust mask. You should also be cautious of any debris that can fall during chimney inspection.

Step #2: Check the Exterior of the Chimney

Starting at the ground level, look over the fireplace’s façade to begin the chimney inspection. Keep an eye out for any obvious deterioration indicators, such as cracks, gaps, or tilting.

Examine the joints between the stones or bricks closely. Gaps between bricks or crumbling mortar may be signs of masonry vulnerability.

Step #3: Inspect the Chimney Cap or Crown

Examine the chimney top or crown for cracks or loose parts. Moisture could get into the chimney by a broken chimney cover, causing additional deterioration.

Step #4: Testing Damper

To make sure the damper opens and shuts correctly, test it. Efficiency in heating and ventilation might be affected by a defective damper.

Light a little piece of newspaper to produce smoke and see how it flows through the chimney. Persistent smoke or uneven smoke distribution might be signs of damage or obstructions inside the chimney.

Step #5: Seek for Expert Chimney Inspection

If you see major damage to the state of your chimney, you should consult an experienced chimney inspector.

To completely evaluate the chimney, an expert is needed to do a full chimney inspection to avoid potential damage.

Signs that Your Chimney Has Damage from an Earthquake


Damaged Chimney Cap

Damage signs such as cracks or dislodgment on the chimney cap, are one of the most obvious signs that your chimney is damaged.

A damaged chimney cap compromises the chimney’s ability to shed water effectively, leading to potential water damage and deterioration.

Cracked Exteriors

Look for obvious cracks on the outside of your chimney during chimney inspections. These might be little cracks along the surface of the chimney, or they can be fractures that resemble hairline fractures.

Leaned Fireplace

If you notice your fireplace is leaned or shifts more than its usual position, it is a sign. You should call a chimney inspection right away to avoid serious damage.

Foul Odor

Another obvious sign of chimney damage is an unusual smell. This indicates a blockage or ventilation issue caused by the earthquake.

You should do a chimney inspection to check if there is a creosote build-up that can cause foul smells.

Visible Cracks

Signs such as cracks across the fireplace are one of the most obvious damages. Check for both the exterior and interior of the chimney to check for any issues.

Final Thoughts

Recognizing the signs of fireplace damage after an earthquake is crucial for maintaining the safety and functionality of your home.

Obvious signs such as cracks and loose bricks call for immediate attention for chimney inspections. Always schedule an annual maintenance by qualified experts to ensure your fireplace safety.

Remember to prioritize chimney inspection after an earthquake to avoid any serious fireplace issues and damages.