EARTHQUAKE

Residents still repairing chimneys after August earthquake

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The August earthquake that rocked the D.C. area is still shaking-up homeowners.

But it’s more than just an inconvenience for homeowners. The earthquake-cracked tiles that line chimneys potentially allow dangerous carbon monoxide gas to seep through walls. Into a house.

It's something Walter Kerr of Johnson Chimney Service sees a lot. One house shook so much the vent pipe in the wall actually fell off. He says the quake pulled chimneys away from some homes, and crumbled chimney's on others.

Certain neighborhoods had more chimney damage than others. Kerr says Northwest - near Sibley Hospital, Northeast in the Eastern and Addison road areas and Arlington and McLean are some of the worst affected areas.

Pretty much everyone who's had damage has paid dearly. Chimney repairs range from $2,000 to about $18,000 and just about every chimney repair company in the region is still booked for weeks.

Here are some tips for homeowners:

1. Get your chimney inspected. This doesn’t mean you have to spend the money to get it cleaned. Just hire a professional to come out and make sure none of the tiles on the inside of the chimney has shifted. Those cracks are not only structural problems, but CO gas gets in there and can get into the walls and into the house. Can be very dangerous. Inspections usually cost right around $100.

2. Have multiple CO detectors in your house and make sure the batteries are fresh.

3. Just because the outside of your chimney looks fine, or looks like it always has, doesn’t mean the quake didn’t shift what you cannot see. A lot of homes in our region are older, the bricks are more fragile and damage more likely.

4. arbon monoxide damage can mimic water damage, so don’t assume you have water damage in your walls or ceiling. Experts tell us the gas has water vapor in it that collects and bubbles very similarly to water.

5. Chimney damage can very easily lead to water damage. Cracks inside or outside the chimney are a gateway for water to get into your home and can lead not only to water damage but mold and mildew issues.

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