The Importance of Masonry Repair

Retaining Walls Charleston SC is vital to keeping brick and stone buildings structurally sound. It also improves the aesthetic appeal of a building. Performing these repairs regularly prevents larger issues from developing and saves you money in the long run.

Whether you have a historic or modern masonry building, regular inspections are key to avoiding damage and the need for restoration. Here are some of the most common masonry issues to watch for.

Masonry is extremely durable, but like any other structure, it can experience wear and tear over time.

Cracks are a common problem when a masonry surface has been subjected to excessive stress or pressure. Masonry cracks can be repaired using a process known as repointing. This involves filling the cracks with a mortar mix that matches the existing material. Various mortar mixes can be used to repair cracks in masonry structures. Examples include lime, Portland cement, natural cement, pozzolans, and alternative cementitious materials.

The expansion and contraction of the bricks and the mortar most often cause cracks in masonry. Michigan homes are particularly prone to this issue because of the extreme temperature changes that occur in the state. This type of expansion and contraction can be due to moisture penetration or simply to the movement of the earth around the masonry. In either case, the cracks need to be repaired by a professional mason to prevent further damage to the masonry and to prevent safety issues for the building occupants.

If the cracks are limited to one or two bricks spread throughout the surface being repaired, they are likely not to be a sign of serious foundation damage. However, if the cracks run diagonally across the wall, they can indicate a problem with the footing of the brick structure or the soil it is resting upon. In this case, it is best to consult with a foundation expert.

In most cases, if the cracks in the masonry structure are increasing in depth or width, it is best to consult with a structural engineer to see what the root cause of the movement is and to take steps to resolve the problem. Stitching bars are sometimes used to repair cracks in brick walls, but they should only be employed as part of a comprehensive repair specification by a qualified engineering firm.

Staining is also a common problem that affects many masonry structures. This can be caused by various factors such as water penetration, aging of the bricks and mortar, or chemical staining from salts or other chemicals that have come in contact with the masonry. If the masonry is being repointed, it is important to match the color of the existing mortar and to use only the highest quality repair materials.

When a brick wall or other piece of masonry begins to loosen, it should be repaired immediately. Not only does it create a safety hazard, but the loosened brick could fall and damage property or cause injury.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding this issue, professional masonry services may be required to fix the problem and prevent further damage properly.

A brick wall can begin to loosen for many reasons, including physical damage and untreated water damage over time. These situations can also lead to frost damage and other structural issues that require professional masonry repair.

Brick is an incredibly durable material that lasts for decades, but it does have its limits. When a brick experiences extreme weather conditions, it can begin to spill. Spalling is when the surface of a brick becomes flaky and loses its texture. This can happen due to freeze-thaw cycles, salt, and other environmental factors.

When a wall is loosened, it is often because the mortar has become damaged. When the mortar breaks down, it allows moisture through the wall and hastens the deterioration of sound brick masonry. This is why it is important to tuckpoint, or patch, the mortar joints as soon as they become damaged.

A good tuckpointing job takes patience and skill but will prevent the need to replace bricks and can keep walls safe and attractive for years.

To start, clean the area where you will work with a stiff-bristled brush or wire brush to remove any existing mortar. Then, sweep the area and clean off any remaining loose pieces. This will prepare the surface for the new mortar.

Mix your mortar according to the directions on the package and use a trowel to apply it over the loose brick. Press the new mortar into place and then smooth it out to be flush with the existing brick.

Spray the newly repaired area with water to help the mortar cure correctly. Protect the area with plastic sheeting to retain moisture and help the mortar set. After the mortar has cured, it is important to apply a brick stain to protect it from the elements and to provide extra color and protection.

The chimney is a critical part of your home, facilitating the safe expulsion of combustion gases. While it is a vital component of your building, it can also require maintenance and repairs occasionally. This is why a regular inspection by a certified chimney mason is so important, as it allows you to address problems early on. Identifying masonry issues such as cracked bricks, crumbling mortar joints, and water damage is essential for the chimney’s health.

Chimneys are made of several materials, including brick, stone, concrete, flue tile, and cast iron. These materials can be vulnerable to several issues, such as leaks, cracks, crumbling, clogs, and erosion. Water damage is one of the most common issues that can impact masonry, as it causes rusting and rotting, stains, cracks, spalling bricks, and leaning chimneys. If left unattended, these issues can lead to major structural and safety concerns.

In addition to looking for obvious signs of masonry problems, it’s also important to conduct a thorough interior inspection. A thorough inspection includes examining the fireplace and firebox, as well as the smoke chamber, chimney liner, chimney crown, and more. If any of these components are damaged, a chimney mason can recommend the most effective repair methods to restore them to optimum performance and safety standards.

To spot masonry damage, conduct a visual inspection from the ground. Look for cracks in the bricks and mortar, and pay particular attention to the chimney crown. Moisture can easily corrode the mortar crown, and a large crack in this area can lead to a leaky chimney. A silicone-based masonry patch can repair hairline cracks in the chimney crown, but a full replacement is required for a severely damaged crown. A new chimney crown will protect the masonry structure, prevent moisture, and improve fire safety, carbon monoxide safety, and gas venting efficiency. A new flue liner will also enhance these aspects of the chimney, reducing fire risk and improving energy efficiency.

Masonry sealants fill gaps between concrete, glass, aluminum, and masonry walls. These sealants are very important for maintaining the structural integrity of a building, preventing leaks, and adding to the aesthetics of a structure. Different types of sealants are available, and each type has its unique properties. A good quality sealant can withstand stress and pressure, reducing the amount of wear and tear on the material it is sealing.

Joint sealants should be compatible with the masonry and other substrates to which they are applied. Before applying new sealants, the old or deteriorated sealant should be removed and the joints cleaned. Often, a primer is recommended to improve the bond strength of the sealant to the substrate. It is best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for each primer, as they may vary from product to product.
Control joints, joints around fenestration (doors and windows) and penetrations, and isolation joints (joints at dissimilar material interfaces) in concrete masonry walls rely on joint sealants to help preserve the weather-tightness of the overall building envelope. The performance of these masonry joints depends on their design and construction, the overall building envelope, and proper maintenance.

Joints in concrete masonry are exposed to cyclical tension and compression caused by thermal expansion and contraction of the concrete. The substantial movement in these joints requires an impermeable, elastic sealant to accommodate these movements. The type of sealant selected should be compatible with the masonry and other substrates to which it is being applied, be suitable for the climate in which it will be used, meet the building codes, and have a good reputation for service and durability.

Polysulphide and silicone sealants are the most popular types of masonry sealants on the market, as they offer a good level of elasticity. Polysulphide and silicone sealants are available in gun grade or pour grade, depending on the application. Gun grade should be used for inclined or vertical joints, and spray grade should be used for horizontal joints. Before using a new sealant, it is important to read the application instructions and consult with an expert to ensure that you are applying the correct product for your specific needs.