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WHY YOU NEED TO THINK 'STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS REPORTS' WHEN YOU THINK SANTA THIS CHRISTMAS

03 Dec 2018

It is often only at this time of year, as the colder nights draw in, that my thoughts turn to the chimney. Whether it’s as I light the fire and realise that despite my best intentions, I didn’t get around to having it swept - or I think of Christmas past when the children would ponder just how Santa wouldn’t get stuck. Chimneys however, deserve greater consideration, and any home alterations which involves removing any part of them should be approached with great care.

The stack is the part of the chimney which is most familiar – this is the brick structure that sits on the roof. Removal of the stack is relatively straightforward and usually carried out because of leaks or structural damage. Once the bricks are removed the hole left is covered and the roof extended – job done!

The chimney breast is the brick wall that encases the flue and forms crucial structural support to the house. Often on the inside, it protrudes into each room as it passes through the floors, so its removal can create more space. Any work on the chimney breast could, however, undermine the structural stability of the house so the advice of a Structural Engineer should always be sought before work starts. They will design any reinforcements needed for that floor and the one above, possibly the outer wall, and the stack too, if it is being left intact. If the chimney breast is on the party wall, the neighbours may also need to be involved and give their approval for the work to be done.

So, as we approach the festive season and our thoughts turn to snow topped chimney pots and reindeer, it is poignant to remember that a chimney isn’t ‘just for Christmas.’

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