We are seismically retrofitting our 1951 home. The chimney is in one corner of the garage and both walls abut into the chimney, but neither wall appears to be fastened to the chimney.

  • The wall on the left will be built out as a shear wall. Existing framing is tied to the rafters above and also on the back side of the chimney with what appears to be 3/4" solid-wood sheathing.
  • The wall on the right contains the garage door.

Should the shear wall be strapped to the chimney, or let the chimney stand on its own and only strap the shear wall to the rest of the wood framing?

Here you can see the left and right walls using the chimney as one corner of the garage:

Chimney abutting two walls

The chimney pictured above is to the right of this picture below:

Wall tied to rafters

In the picture below you can see how both walls come together into the corner above the chimney (old water damage, it's sealed now). At the top-left of the chimney you can see the solid 3/4" T&G sheathing that runs behind the chimney. (The metal rail at the bottom is for the garage door.)

Wall rafters tied to chimney

  • 1
    @ the VtC - what other details do you need? I'm sure there's info missing, but help the OP out...
    – FreeMan
    Oct 21, 2021 at 14:29
  • @FreeMan, what is "@ the VtC" ? Did a comment go missing?
    – KJ7LNW
    Oct 21, 2021 at 20:33
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    Someone voted to close the question without a comment, but please understand this is one-article-per-question and they are different: This chimney question is specific to shear walls, the other is generic about attaching walls to chimneys since shear walls could have different requirements. Here is the related article: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/236910/…
    – KJ7LNW
    Oct 21, 2021 at 20:40
  • No, no... there was no deleted comment. "VtC" is short for "Vote to Close" and that was a generic "ping" to the unknown person who voted. My comment was to point out that this seems to be a reasonable question. The VtC is for "Needs details", I was hoping someone might come back to ID what details they'd like to see added instead of just shutting this down.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 21, 2021 at 20:53
  • The vibration characteristics of the chimney and the building are very different, so in general, they should be separated by a movement joint. But I am not familiar with residential constructions, again, I think you need to consult with an engineer on this matter.
    – r13
    Oct 23, 2021 at 20:00

1 Answer 1


The Code is clear, masonry is not to be supported by wood. Usually this is in reference to vertical loads (headers supporting brick walls, etc.)

For horizontal loads there are other concerns. Bracing supports are not critical load supports.

In your case, straps used to provide additional horizontal support for a brick wall could be acceptable, if you knew where the structural supports are located within the brick wall. Adding straps to a non-structural area of your brick would be more harmful than beneficial and merely tear the brick wall apart under load.

I’d try to strap the bricks together so it has better overall support and not introduce outside forces to the brick.

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