Unreinforced masonry chimney.
Unreinforced chimney

Is your chimney safe?


Many homes built before the 1970s have a brick or concrete masonry chimney, although the fireplace may no longer be used. These chimneys are likely to be unreinforced and in an earthquake, they can collapse and cause damage to the house below. Cracked chimneys can also start house fires if open fireplaces are still used.


  • Brick chimneys built after 1990 use a reinforced concrete flue within the brickwork and are tied to the house framing to prevent collapse.
  • If your chimney is a lightweight metal flue, there is little risk.

To check

If you see the following, you have a serious problem that needs immediate attention.

  • Is your chimney a heavy brick or older concrete chimney?
  • Do you see cracks or loose or broken bricks, masonry or plaster? 
  • Is the chimney leaning over or does it have a twist?


Contact a building professional for advice.

Consider replacing the chimney with a modern metal flue version.

If you don’t use the chimney, think about removing it entirely.

You may be able to remove your unreinforced masonry or concrete chimney without a building consent. However, a carpentry licensed building practitioner must carry out the work and specific conditions apply. Talk to you Council about your plans and get advice on what consents (if any) you will need.