Brick buildings are known for their strength, durability, and aesthetics. They offer a myriad of benefits to homeowners, like a fireproof exterior structure, a classic brick façade, and a structurally sound home. Brick structures and buildings are also usually low maintenance depending upon the brick quality. However, the structural integrity also depends upon the quality of the mortar and masonry technique used to bond the bricks together. So, despite its structural integrity, you’ll have to invest in mortar repairs to prevent brick deterioration.
Brick deterioration can happen due to a variety of reasons. And most of them occur due to moisture penetration and structural damage due to external elements. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help you prevent this issue and maintain your structure.
Here are some ways you can prevent brick damage to your home or building:
Some Causes Of Brick Deterioration
The first step to preventing brick deterioration is identifying the causes. This will help you narrow down where you need to concentrate your efforts. The biggest culprit that leads to this issue is water penetration. This can be due to weather damage to the structure from strong winds or freeze and thaw action from the changing seasons. This is a major concern in colder climates.
Since bricks are a very durable material that’s porous, it can make them susceptible to water penetration if they’re not plastered properly afterward. So, direct exposure to snow and rain will allow water to be absorbed by the bricks while also damaging the mortar. This will also cause the space between the bricks to expand, leading to flaking and spalling.
Another reason that can lead to brick deterioration is when the foundation is settling and the property shifts to a wrong angle. We’ll share an example from San Francisco’s Millennium Tower. The ground beneath the surface of San Francisco is largely clay and soil, with the bedrock far beneath the surface. So buildings are anchored with piles drilled into the clay and soil. These piles are then attached to a concrete platform that holds the weight of the entire building.
Most times, this is enough to handle the weight of the building. However, this skyscraper tilts at a rate of 3 inches per year and has sunk 8.5 inches to the North and 25.5 inches to the West. Uneven settling has put tension on the structure. There are some plans to reverse the depression, but it seems to be a costly undertaking to use a supporting steel platform with piles reaching the bedrock to stabilize the depressing side.
How To Identify Problem Areas
Now that you know about one of the major issues leading to brick deterioration. You can start with keeping your brick exterior dry as much as possible. And that doesn’t mean you commission a big umbrella for your home or building. However, you can identify problematic areas that are most vulnerable to water damage.
You can start by inspecting the exterior walls, overhangs, chimneys, brick porch areas, etc. You should also check the exterior walls that are surrounded by greenery and shrubbery because water can cling to the greens. And the bushy nature can make it difficult for the bricks to dry due to a lack of sunlight.
Invest In Quality Workmanship
Quality materials are just as important as quality workmanship. So, if you’ve had low-quality work carried out, you’ll soon see the consequences of the work. You can find that the repair services may have replaced your quality bricks with an inexpensive and low-quality variant with an equally low-quality mortar. This can impact the overall strength and structure of your building, causing spalling and protruding bricks.
And in the situation where ever a single brick is laid or repaired out of place, it can lead to brick deterioration and damage in the surrounding area.
Invest In A Quality Sealant
After identifying problematic areas, you can now start researching quality sealants to protect your brick surface. The sealant, in theory, should work like wax on a car. The wax acts as a protective layer to the metal and paint layer, preserving the color and integrity of the surface. Similarly, a sealant will seal the surface of the bricks and help preserve the color and structural integrity of both bricks and mortar.
They’ll prevent water from penetrating the porous material. However, be careful when selecting sealants. They often can have the opposite effect on moisture penetrating where they trap the water in your exterior bricks.
We also recommend brick painting as a risky venture. So, find a breathable sealant that can expel and absorb excess water naturally. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with water damage with a non-breathable sealant as it keeps the water from affecting the mortar joints.
Get Tuck-pointing Services
If you see a crumbling mortar or a brick out of place, it’s best to immediately call your masonry services providers for tuck-pointing services. Tuck-pointing refers to the process of removing the crumbling mortar and then replacing the mortar with the existing color of the mortar and replacing the brick in the structure.
This procedure is used to enhance the appearance of deteriorating masonry work. Tuck-pointing and repointing are often used interchangeably. However, tuck-pointing also involved using narrow lines of putty in a contrasting color in the center of the new mortar joints. This makes the final product quite different.
Homeowners, usually prefer tuck-pointing because it allows a cleaner visual aesthetic that matches the color of the mortar in the original construction. So, it’s a subtler masonry repair work that blends well into your aesthetics.
Replacing Crumbling Bricks
If you’ve inherited or purchased an old home, you must have a thorough inspection of the brickwork. You’ll need to observe spalling or protruding bricks in the structure, along with crumbling bricks. Brick replacement in an older building can be a difficult job. This is because you’ll have to match the making, size, and color of the brick that’s similar to the original and doesn’t make the repair work stand out.
So, you’ll need to find the nearest local manufacturer or contact your block wall contractors to help you find the required bricks and then provide repairs. It’s recommended to get the brickwork replaced as soon as possible because the compromised brick may lead to uneven distribution of the weight of the structure. It’ll also make the surrounding mortar joints weak and cause them to crumble.
Prevent Water Damage As Much As You Can
As much as we’d like to control the weather and keep it mildly sunny all year round, we can’t. So ensure that you’re prepared for the rain and cold seasons to prevent your bricks from water damage. You’ll also need to ensure that your plumbing system behind the brick walls is not leaking from somewhere that can cause problems later. You’ll also need to check on any pooling water damage to poor drainage systems that can cause brick deterioration to your exterior bricks.
Moreover, check the water content in the soil near your foundation or building. This stagnant water can erode your bricks from below. This is also known as the “rising damp” and is a very common brick repair or restoration service.
Minimize Power Washing
If you’ve got brickwork done on your porch and patio, they can get dirty because of rain and dirt in the air. You can get tempted to wash the brick with a power washer when you’re cleaning the driveway and the pavers near your patio. It’s okay to clean them occasionally with a power washer. However, too much power washing can lead to brick deterioration and structural damage.
If you’re looking to clean your bricks anyway, use a sensitive cleaning solution, a gentle scrubber, and water to remove any algae growth and dirt buildup.
Get Professional Help With Our Block Wall Repair Services At CF VICE Construction For Your Building
Now that you know how you can protect your bricks from deterioration and structural damage, you can maintain your home for a long time. If rainwater directly hits your bricks, consider installing an awning to prevent damage to your bricks. You can also consider installing drains to ensure water doesn’t stagnate in pools around your external walls and settle into the foundation.
If you’re looking for affordable construction services in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Tempe, get in touch with us at CF VICE Construction for masonry services providers and other repair and installation services.