Chimney fixes vary in earthquake country

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Q: Our 1940 home has a brick fireplace and chimney. We had it inspected recently and were told by several people that it has a crack near the roofline and needs to be taken down and rebuilt. The estimate to rebuild it is about $15,000. Are there less expensive ways to replace this chimney that do not involve rebuilding it from the ground up with brick? A: It sounds as if at some point your chimney may have sustained some earthquake damage that went unnoticed until the chimney inspection. A total rebuild from the ground up might sound a bit excessive if the crack is at the roofline. But for maximum earthquake protection when using traditional materials, this is probably the way to go. To make an informed decision about how to proceed, you need to assess the risk, whether it be fire hazard, earthquake mitigation, or both. To do this, you also need a primer on how chimneys work. Whenever a fire burns, whether in a fireplace or a gas-fired furnace, it produces toxic gases that must be dire...