building valuations


Chimney Problems


Independent Surveyors

We are independent Chartered Surveyors who have years of experience of Building Surveys, often known as Structural Surveys, and a wealth of property knowledge.

If you need help of advise with regard to your property free phone 0800 298 5424.


Coal Fires

Today most of our have coal fires as a feature in a property, although some of still do rely upon coal fires. Either way, property problems can occur if they are not maintained well.   In fact if you have an older property with a chimney you may well have problems even if you don’t use the chimney.

Free phone 0800 298 5424


Typical problems that we come across with chimneys

Chimney problems you can see

Sulphate attack, otherwise known as yellow and orange stains on the walls.
A form of sulphate attack that many of us see but don’t know what it is, is when we have a yellow or orange stain coming through on a wall.  This can be almost impossible to get rid of.  The reason for this is because the staining is coming from within the wall where it’s a chimney or near to a chimney and dampness is coming in through the top of the chimney, reacting with the soot in the chimney and then being drawn out by the heat in the house and general capillary action, leading to the staining.
The only solution we know of with regard to the staining, and tell us if you’re aware of anything else, is to not get in the position where it becomes a problem by carrying out regularly maintenance of the chimney.  This takes several forms:

  1. External repair and keeping it watertight.
  2. Having it regularly swept


Problems you can’t see

A build up of soot within the chimney that can lead to a fire.  We were involved with a fire in a flue once, which is the closest we’ve come to a fire in a chimney. This was a metal flue from cooking that had become covered with grease and a fire had started within the flue that had gone up through the building which, if memory serves us correctly, was a Victorian property that had been sub-divided into residential units, so one of the worst places to have a fire, that is if having a fire anywhere can be considered as anything but a disaster.


A solution would be:

  1. To have it regularly cleaned.
  2. In the case of the flue also to have access hatches at regular intervals into the flue lining to allow the chimney to be cleaned.


Things that you can see on chimneys

Cracks to chimneys

We would recommend that one or two days per year are spent having a quick look around the property to see if anything has changed, making a note or taking a photograph of the changes.  Once such change that may occur could be a crack to a chimney as chimneys years ago were quite substantial.

Fires originally, for those of you that are not aware, were literally in the centre of a floor, with chimneys being invented in the form of smoke hoods in around the 13th / 14th Centuries within the bays of timber frame buildings. Yes we really did have fires in timber frame buildings, in fact we once read about a blacksmith who had a thatched roof and was blamed, not surprisingly, for causing quite a large fire in the town that burned a dozen or so houses.





Inglenook fireplace in a 17th Century house with modern wood burner

From the smoke hood we developed the chimney which was generally brick or stone. Often you see these on the outside of properties as they were add-on features, particularly in the 14th and 15th Centuries when we still had a considerable fear of fire, yet had the means and technology to do something about it by forming a fireplace.

Brick chimney with two chimney pots on traditional stone property


What this does mean is that many fireplaces were large and self-supporting and indeed gave support to surrounding elements, such as floors and roofs, although this did change over time.  What it can mean is that when a crack is in a chimney it can also affect other parts of a property.  Equally it could be that the chimney is cracked due to the lining failing.
Again, if you carry out an annual inspection you will note these things and be able to see if the crack gets larger or smaller, or it may simply have been a crack that you hadn’t notice had been there for many years and the property has adjusted and settled into place.  However it could also be a structural or progressive crack, in which case you need to get professional advice.

Give us a call for a friendly chat on 0800 298 5424


Having your chimney swept, what does it involve?

For those of you that are new to having chimneys and having them swept for the first time, you should, in our opinion, expect a chimneysweep to be relatively clean despite their job if they are good at their trade.  They should provide covers for carpets and often a second cover, and then they will clear the chimney and close it up and seal it so no soot should get out.  Into the cloth that they have in front of the chimney there is an opening that they put the chimney brush through and push it up through the chimney, with any soot, etc, falling down.
The Chimneysweep we spoke to, as he was busy sweeping a chimney for us, advised that he could generally feel when the lining to the chimney was loose (see our later comments on chimney linings) and the lining would fall to the bottom of the chimney in large chunks if there were problems, with there being whiter dust in the soot mix if it was a lime lining.

He also advised that he could also feel from the pushing of the chimney brush up through the chimney flue if the chimney pots were loose at roof level. Normally with a thud as they pushed the chimney brushes up through the chimney flue.

The Chimneysweep will then push the brush up through the chimney using poles that are screwed together until the chimney brush comes out of the top of the chimney (see photo).

We would always suggest the Chimneysweep pushes the brush out of the top of the chimney. This then makes sure that the chimney pot is secured safely in place.  The Chimneysweep then reverses the operation and undoes the poles one by one until the brush is returned.  He will then normally put on a face mask as the soot isn’t pleasant and unseal the fire and collect the dust.  He should have a vacuum cleaner handy to remove any dust and also any render lining.


Chimney Linings

Chimneys are brick or stone built but they are often lined with either a lime render if it’s pre-war or cement render if it’s post war.  These materials are very different, with lime tending to crumble, whereas cement mortar tends to come off in chunks within the chimney.

Small bits of lining are generally acceptable as the outside of the chimney is alright, but if large bits of lining come off you can then get smoke making its way usually into the roof as this area often has the brick exposed.  We do find in chimneys after the 1950’s/1960’s that they do have a render lining within the roof space which does stop this problem.


What can you do if the lining of the chimney has failed beyond repair?

What normally happens is that a metal flue lining will be put in the chimney and a slurry is then put either side of the flue to hold it in place, effectively forming a lining within the lining.


Compare our website articles and compare our surveys

Have a look around our website to see the quality of our articles, for example this one, and look at the quality of our surveys (we are more than happy to send you an example). We pride ourselves on our professional standard and easy to read reports which we have been carrying out for many years on every age, type and style of property across the UK.


Examples of our building surveys

If are buying a property then you may like to see some examples of Building Surveys we have carried out. You will see that our surveys contain photos, sketches and definitions that help to explain the specific problems that we find within the property. There is also an Executive Summary at the start of the survey report that highlights the main issues that we find with the property. Please call us and we can email you some of these examples.
Free phone us 0800 298 5424 and ask for an example of one of our surveys. We have carried out surveys on every Era and age, type and style of property.


Meet your building surveyor

We recommend you meet us at the property during the survey so that we understand exactly what you require from your survey report and so we can answer any questions you may have.


Photographs and surveying sketches, ovals and circles

We also use circles and ovals on our photographs and sketches to emphasise problem areas so that you are not left wondering what the problem is. In addition to this if the photographs do not we believe explain the problem enough together with our survey report we also add in one of our own sketches such as the example that is shown here.

An example of one of our survey sketches of a lead flashing surrounding a chimney

Dampness seen internally from a chimney


All rights reserved to

All rights are reserved the contents of the web site is not to be reproduced or transmitted in any form in whole or part without the express written permission of


building engineers



Home Buyers Reports Property Surveys - why we're the best. Engineers Reports
© Copyright
Site Map

1stassociated-logo-for-footer IVSA-badge IVSA-putting-client-first call-us-for-footer

We have thousands of free property articles to help you - or call us freephone on 0800 298 5424

We have been working in the property industry for many years and have been
providing free property articles for over ten years. All for free and to help you with buying your next property.

House and Home Surveys and Useful Information

All you need to know about Building Surveys

Building Control, what do they do?

Designers and Architects will they save me money or will they cost me money

Enviroment, Your Building and Garden Gnomes

Estate Agents help sell houses and work for the vendors

Have a Structural Survey to protect you against structural problems

Home improvements, builder problems and ideas for you on how to solve them

How a Surveyor values a property, Chartered Surveyors and Regulated Valuers

How Chartered Engineers and Building Engineers can help you

Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

NHBC National House Building Council

Structural Surveys and How We Can Help You

Traditional and Non-Traditional Houses and Mortgage Problems

Valuations and how much is the building worth?

Whats the difference between a Chartered Building Surveyor, Chartered Surveyor and an Independent Surveyor

Useful property problem articles by Chartered Surveyors explaining building issues to avoid

External - Helpful information on building problems on the outside of the property

Chimney issues and problems

Cracking and Movement Problems and Surveying Solutions

Flat Roof Problems, how we can solve them

Foundations and Structures and Settlement and Subsidence and Underpinning

Pitched Roofs Problems and Solutions

Roof Problems

Wall Problems

Windows and Doors and Fascias and Soffits and Wet Rot and Dry Rot and other problems

Internal - House problems we have investigated inside

All you ever need to know about floors

Asbestos in your home, what you need to know

Ceiling Cracks and Structural Problems

Condensation, Damp and Black Mould Problems

Cracking and Movement Problems and Surveying Solutions

Windows and Doors and Fascias and Soffits and Wet Rot and Dry Rot and other problems

Woodworm is it a problem or not? Is it active or not?

Services - Building help and advice on costly services

Drainage, what's underground can affect what's above ground

Heating; I just can't get my house warm enough or alternatively I just can't get my house cool enough

You can't mess around with the electric, you need an expert


Commercial Property Services

Building Terms Explained and Directories

Commercial Property Surveys

Commercial Structural Surveys

Leisure Facilites

Offices Large and Small

Shops and Retail

Warehouse and Industrial Buildings

Dilapidations Help and Advice What is a Dilapidations Notice?

A Beginner's Guide to Dilaps

Damp Mould and Condensation

Dampness Rising Damp Mould Black Mould Condensation

Dilapidations and Negotiations

Dilapidations Claim by a Landlord

Energy Saving what can I do?

Finance what is a Financial Adviser (We are not Financial Advisors)

Fire Risk and Help

Health and Safety Risks

Insurance how do I get the correct property insurance?

Landlords Surveying Advice

Property Investment how can I invest in property?

Property TV Reviews by an Independent Surveyor

Schedules of Condition Leasing a Commercial Property

Scotts Schedule and Section 18 Valuation

Tenants Surveying Advice

Weather how does weather affect my property?



Snow and Ice

Strong Winds

Reviews from clients on Commercial Building Surveys

Churches and Charities, helpful reviews from our clients

Industrial Buildings and Warehouses and what our clients say about us

Offices Large and Small, reviews and feedback from our clients

Pubs, Restaurants, Hotels and other Leisure facilities we have surveyed over the years

Shops and Retail, helpful reviews from our clients


First Time Buyers

Buying a Leasehold or Shared Freehold Home

Buying and Selling Houses for the experienced house and home purchaser

First Time Buyers how do I go about buying my first house and home?

Improve your property knowledge with our presentations on house, homes and commercial property

Building Surveys

Building Surveying Useful Information


Dilapidations Presentations in Detail

Final Year Building Surveying Exams for University Students or those that would like to know more

How old is your Building? Which era was it built in?

Party Walls

Surveyors and Design Tools

Disputes and Party Walls

Boundary Disputes

Building and Property Disputes

Party Wall Book Reviews

Party Walls Your Rights and Responsibilities

1stAssociated Surveyors Review for Structural Surveys and Building Surveys

Building Surveys, reviews and feedback from satisfied customers

Buy to let property clients, what they say about our structural surveys

Buying at auction, review of the survey

Buying bungalows and retirement properties and how our surveyors can help

Both at work / busy couples, how we can help and some 1stAssociated client reviews

Families with a young person flying the nest, reviews and feedback

First Time Buyers, what they say about us

Listed buildings, structural surveys

Older buildings, a review of buying an older house

Families with children looking for a new home, feedback and reviews

Buying a Non-Traditional Property

Residential Surveys

House and Home Surveys

Commercial Building Surveys

Commercial Surveys

1st Associated Surveyors Are Also Available in the Following Areas:

East Anglia and East

South and South East

West Country and South West


North and North East



London Markets

London Parks



Areas of Britain

1stAssociated Independent Expert Property Surveyors

Specialists in Home Buyers Reports, Building Surveys and Structural Surveys and Schedules of Condition

All Surveyors are Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors qualified and RICS regulated

and are Members of the Independent Surveyors and Valuers Association

Putting the Client First

We do not accept service of documents by email or fax