Chimney danger revealed

Saturday 20 November 2010, 6:43PM


Chimneys that fall in eathquakes is old news.  The ironic and galling fact though for insurance companies must be that they actually built them themselves.  After the 1968 Inangahua Eathquake, toppled chimney tops were common in Christchurch and were duly rebuilt by well meaning tradesmen.  Unfortunately they used cement in their mortar. In doing so Insurance companies created some of the worst damage to Classic and Heritage buildings seen in the latest Christchurch Quake. The entire top fell as a sigle giant battering ram, some weighing two ton, and demolished everything in their path. From the roof of a double story building they plunged uninterupted through roof, ceiling, top floor then continued down to imbed themselves in the soil under the wooden floor of these clasic and heritage buildings. The depressing thing is that this mistake is in the process of being repeated. Well meaning builders and presumably the Insurance companies paying them have reinstated these dangerous masonry chimneys perched on lime mortar stacks setting up yet another disaster for future home owners. This should be illegal under the Building Act as it states that all building work, even that not requiring a permit, should keep people safe. Classic and Heritage houses need a replica chimney that conforms to modern earthquake standards. One lightweight replica chimney solution has been verified by a reputable Christchurch Engineer and is supplied by a local group of Christchurch builders. The HeritageReplicaChimney solves the danger problem as it is light enough to sway with the frame of the existing house rather than fighting to demolish it. The HeritageReplicaChimney builders hope that Insurance Companies responsible for reinstating Christchurch Classic and Heritage homes learn from the mistakes they are now paying very dearly for.