Masonry Repair Charleston SC involves patching or plugging gaps that may have appeared in your mortar. It also covers the replacement of old mortar or bricks that are starting to deteriorate.
A mason can repoint a masonry joint, replace cracked or spalling brick, rebuild lintels and shelf angles, and more. These repairs should be done immediately, as procrastinating can lead to further damage or structural issues in the future.
Cracks in masonry structures are caused by thermal movements, shrinkage, and moisture expansion. They are not a sign of structural instability or collapse, but can be cosmetically unsightly and require a professional brick or masonry repair specialist to identify the cause of the cracks and address them accordingly.
Masonry cracks are a common result of expansion and contraction, but they are also due to structural movements such as ground movement and wall bending. Cracks may also occur when the load-bearing capacity of the soil is reduced, causing foundation subsidence and the bending of walls.
In order to control cracking, a building should be designed to incorporate proper design procedures. This includes the use of expansion joints where openings (doors and windows) are located. This allows the masonry to expand and contract without damaging other areas of the wall. This is particularly important as concrete masonry tends to shrink more than clay brick.
Another method of preventing cracking is the use of control joints, which are vertical separations built into a wall to reduce restraint and allow longitudinal movement. This helps prevent cracking due to drying shrinkage and temperature fluctuations.
Cracking can also be caused by the deterioration of embedded metals, including wall ties, joint reinforcement, and structural steel lintels. When corroded, these metals will expand and exert intense bursting forces, which will cause adjacent masonry to crack. When this occurs, replacement of the corroded metals is essential to avoid future failure.
Lastly, cracking may be caused by structural overloading of beams and other members such as columns, walls, and slabs. If this is the case, it is recommended that an engineer be consulted to assess and resolve the problem, as structural instability and collapse may follow.
The most critical thing to do when a crack is observed in a masonry structure is to determine whether it is active or dormant. An active crack requires immediate attention as it is indicative that the underlying cause is still present and causing masonry performance problems. In such cases, the required actions will include a soil investigation to determine if ground movement is at fault and the design and construction of new movement joints to allow for expansion and contraction without cracking.
Brick is an incredibly resilient building material, but under certain conditions, the surface of a brick can pit, flake, and crumble. This is known as spalling and can cause serious problems for the overall safety and structural integrity of a brick structure. Spalling typically starts as small cracks that grow into wider crevices over time and deteriorate the surface of the brick. When this happens, it’s best to replace the affected bricks rather than try to repair the surrounding mortar.
The most common cause of spalling is water damage or moisture. Whether from rain, snow, or simply wet soil, these factors can saturate and penetrate brick. This can lead to the freeze-thaw cycle, where brick absorbs and expels water in a constant process of expansion and contraction. This can crack and erode the mortar between the bricks, as well as weaken and crack the brick itself.
Spalling can also be caused by the type of mortar used in a brick building. Modern mortar is much harder than the brick it’s installed with, which causes it to compress and crush the brick over time. This is especially true of older brick that was often built with softer, lime-based mortar.
Identifying the source of the spalling is important before replacing the bricks. Often, this means looking for and repairing a leak or moisture problem. Resolving the problem will prevent it from reoccurring and ensure the long-term safety and health of the brick structure.
Once the source of the spalling has been resolved, it’s possible to restore the damaged brick. To do this, you’ll need a few different tools, such as a hammer, chisel, and a power drill with a masonry cutting wheel. Carefully work to remove the old mortar from the opening and clean out the area before applying new mortar. It’s important to use the same pointing style as the original bricks in order to ensure that the repair matches.
After the new mortar is applied to the brick, it’s a good idea to spray it with water to help it retain moisture and cure properly. It’s also a good idea to protect the repaired brick with a brick stain to prevent future damage.
Many people think the best solution to a broken brick is to simply replace it with another brick of the same size. But this can be expensive, and it also creates a hole that allows water to seep in. To minimize damage, you should try to repair the damaged brick instead. This can be done by filling in the gap with mortar dyed to match the existing brick.
Isolated cracks and chips in a masonry structure are often easy to fix, but larger problems might need professional attention. For example, openings in the wall may need to be repaired if they are no longer supported by wood or iron lintels that have failed or rotted over time. The failure of lintels and arches can also lead to cracking and displacement in the masonry.
When working with masonry, it is important to wear eye protection and work gloves to avoid stone dust lodged deep in the lungs, as well as a dust mask if possible. It is also a good idea to wear a respirator if your project involves digging in the ground or working with concrete or other heavy materials. If the project requires you to climb or work at a height, it’s best to hire a professional mason rather than try to complete the job yourself.
If you decide to do the job yourself, prepare the area by clearing away any loose bricks and chipping off the remaining old mortar. This should be done carefully to avoid damaging the adjacent bricks and should be done as thoroughly as possible. A hammer and cold chisel are often used to remove the mortar, but you can also use a hand-held power grinder or a rotary tool with a cutting wheel if necessary.
Once the area is clean, dampen all of the cavities and walls where new mortar will be applied. This will keep the mortar from drying out too quickly and help the new material bond with the surrounding bricks. Make up a batch of latex-fortified mortar, tinting it with pigments as needed to match the color of the existing bricks.
Mortar is an integral part of brick structures; without a solid, well-formed bed of mortar to seal and support the bricks, a building would quickly fall apart. It is therefore vital that masonry repair specialists can identify the early signs of deterioration and take the correct steps to restore this important material.
Mortar deterioration typically occurs due to a combination of factors such as exposure to adverse weather conditions, expansion and contraction of materials during temperature changes, and erosion. When left untreated, this deterioration can eventually lead to the formation of holes in the brick wall. These voids can allow water to enter the walls and cause further damage, including freeze-thaw action, rot, and corrosion of lintels, arch bars, and wall ties.
The most common sign of mortar deterioration is crumbling between the bricks. When this begins to happen, the mortar needs to be removed and replaced as soon as possible in order to prevent further deterioration and to protect the bricks from water penetration.
While it is sometimes tempting to “patch” crumbling and eroding mortar joints with new mortar, this is never a good idea. This will only serve to conceal the problem and leave the structure vulnerable to further damage, and it can even cause the problem to accelerate. To properly repoint a masonry building, the old mortar must first be removed and then thoroughly cleaned.
Once the old mortar has been removed, the damaged area should be thoroughly misted with a garden hose to dampen the brick. This is a vital step because dry materials can suck the moisture out of the new mortar, preventing it from curing and sealing the masonry structure.
Wearing safety goggles, use a cold chisel and hammer to carefully remove the old mortar from the bricks, working first on the vertical joints and then the horizontal ones. Once the old mortar has been removed, use a brick trowel to fill the voids in the mortar joints. Be sure to fill all of the voids and ensure that there are no air holes in the mortar, and smooth and compact the mortar with the flat face of the trowel. Repeat these steps until all of the mortar joints have been repointed.