Custom Masonry and Fireplace Design San Diego

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Seismic Issues in San Diego County: Assessing Chimney Damage

Although rare, major earthquakes can cause significant damage to your home's fireplace and chimney.
Like the rest of southern California, San Diego County has a number of active earthquake faults. Minor earthquakes and other seismic activity occur frequently over the years and can contribute to chimney damage in the form of cracks, loose mortar, loose bricks, and damage to your chimney foundation.

The first thing to do after an earthquake or "seismic event" is to see if the chimney has been damaged. It may be not have been damaged at all.

Generally re-inforced masonry chimneys built to modern codes are able to withstand the forces imposed by earthquakes and are not usually damaged at all. Older chimneys or new chimneys that have not been built in accordance with modern codes and may not have the proper re-inforcing are much more likely to be damaged in a earthquake.

Look closely at the chimney. See if it has pulled away form the house. Look for exterior cracks or loose bricks. Look for jogs and incontinuities. Is the chimney straight?

After a brief visual inspection, if you have any reason to think the chimney may have been damaged, hire a professional chimney inspector to evaluate the chimney.

If the chimney is used to vent a furnace or other appliance used for primary heating it's very important to evaluate and, if necessary, repair the chimney before you continue to use the chimney. The primary function of any chimney is to conduct the hot and poisonous flue gasses safely out of the house. A damaged chimney could fail to exhaust the gasses or protect the house from fire. Did you put a tarp over the chimney and forget your furnace was vented into it?
Fire Safety

Flue gasses are hot. And wood-fired appliances can cause creosote build-up in the flue that can lead to an even hotter chimney fire. Chimneys are designed to keep the house from catching on fire even during a chimney fire, but to do its job your chimney must be in good condition without blockages or big gaps in the flues. A damaged chimney might not vent all the flue gasses AND it might lead to a house fire.
Structural Hazard

Even if the flues are intact and the chimney serves to vent all the flue gasses and protect the house from fire, it still might be structurally unsafe. Modern chimneys contain re-inforcing bars that help keep the masonry together but older chimneys can tumble down or shed bricks and could injure people or property below. A structurally damaged chimney should be rebuilt or repaired in accordance with current codes so that even if there is another earthquake it won't fall over and jeoprodize people and property.

Licensed C29 Masonry Contractor # 851233 Liability Insurance $2 million/$1 million per occurance

San Diego Masonry Contractor: Paul Walker
Trained in England, he has 17 years experience in masonry construction. The first five years were in and around London, where he served working with tradesmen who passed down their skills and knowledge acquired from previous generations.

Paul has been building fireplaces, barbeques, cultured stonework, etc. in San Diego since 1992. He is trained in all aspects of masonry construction, focusing mainly on fireplaces, chimneys, vertical brickwork, Eldorado and cultured stone.

"We take pride in our work and guarantee quality craftsmanship."

- Paul Walker
  • New Construction Masonry Fireplaces
  • Chimney Inspections
  • Acquire permits from city
  • Reline existing chimneys
  • Reface with brick, tile, veneer stone, precast mantles
  • Repair existing chimneys, crowns
  • New dampers, Heat shields, Spark Arresters
  • Custom Masonry Barbeques
  • Expert Masonry Brickwork, Wainscots, Piers
  • Eldorado and Cultured Stone Specialist
Call us today! 619-287-6464
Member Golden State Chimney Sweep Guild California
licensed C29 masonry contractor # 851233
Liability Insurance $2 million/$1 million per occurance
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