If you live in an older brick house that's showing its age through wear on the bricks and mortar, it could be time to have masonry repairs done to protect your home. Damaged bricks and mortar allow water to seep into the softer insides of the bricks and cause damage that leads to cracking and further decay. Here are some signs your home may need masonry repairs and how they might be done.
Signs Of Masonry Damage
A primary cause of masonry damage is from water. The outside of the bricks are hard and resist water, but the inside can soak it up like a sponge. When water freezes in winter the bricks and mortar can crack. Small chunks of mortar may fall out of the joints and parts of the bricks may flake off. These are all signs the masonry is being damaged and is in need of repairs.
A good time to check your home for masonry problems is after a rain. Wait until the rain stops and then examine the bricks. If they are darker in some places, it's probably because the bricks or mortar soaked up water. This is another sign repairs are needed since water can do so much damage when it seeps into the bricks.
Process Of Repairing The Damage
The first step is to determine the type of mortar present in the joints. An older home may have a lime based mortar rather than cement. If there's a question about the composition of the mortar, a small sample is taken to be analyzed. It's important to choose a similar material so all the joints have the same physical qualities and respond the same way to shifts in temperature. The new mortar is also matched for color as best possible. If only part of a wall is being repaired, then the repaired portion will be obvious if the new mortar is a different color.
When work begins, the old mortar is scraped out. This might be done with a power tool, but it's often done by hand to avoid damaging the bricks. After dust is cleared away, the new mortar is placed in the joints a layer at a time and allowed to dry. It might be necessary to mist the joints frequently to keep the mortar from drying out too soon. Once the new mortar is in place, the surface might be scratched so it matches the rougher texture the old mortar has due to weather damage.
Masonry repair can be tedious work that requires skill to be done properly. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be done often, and a newer brick home should go for many years before weather exposure starts to take its toll on the mortar. However, when you notice water seeping into the bricks, be sure to have an inspection and repairs if necessary while the damage is minor and easy to fix. For more information, contact companies like A-1 Rooftop Chimney Sweep.