Category Archives: brick masonry

The Importance of Repointing the Mortar in your Masonry Structures

Repairs and maintenance to your brick and stone mortar joints is a necessity. Exposure to weathering causes deterioration, and having a professional crew of masons come out for brick or stone pointing in Philadelphia will extend the life of your masonry, protecting your investment.

The process includes removing the deteriorated mortar from the masonry joints and installing new mortar as a replacement. When executed properly, a repointing service will prevent expensive repairs and foundation damage from arising in the future.brick

When will you need your masonry repointed?

You have gotten brick or stone installed in your home for its durability and aesthetic appeal. Though the structure will last for many years, the joints between the pieces of brick or stone are designed to keep them together, but don’t have nearly the same lifespan. Repointing is needed on chimneys, walkways, patios and siding.

You’ll be able to see telltale signs of the deterioration:

  • Cracks in the mortar
  • Gaps between the mortar and masonry
  • Loose structures
  • Damp surfaces on the masonry
  • Water infiltration on the interior walls

When these signs are seen, you can no longer ignore the inevitable. The lengthy and time-consuming process will ensure there is no further damage to the health of the structure. You should routinely examine and inspect the masonry on your home for these telltale signs, but having a professional mason inspect the property will only help you solve any problems quicker.

The Repointing Process

An accurate and precise repointing requires careful attention to detail. The mortar must match that of the existing structure, and it takes much more than just getting the correct color. Other matching characteristics include the texture of the mortar, hardness, vapor permeability, tooling and additional physical properties.

The mortar will be matched to avoid further deterioration. The best mortar for your property is softer than your bricks or stone. The process begins with the removal of the loose and unwanted mortar to a depth of a half-inch at the minimum.

Your unit should be misted and sprayed with water before repointing so the water in the mortar is not absorbed. Lime mortar is the most common repointing material, and is made by heating limestone at 850 degrees to burn off the calcium dioxide. When combining with water, the lime becomes a putty-like plastic material that absorbs carbon dioxide.

Features of lime mortar include the slow setting for easy cleanup that allows the moisture and salts to pass out of the joints of the structure and not through the units where it can cause damage. When using lime mortar, your joints will retain its flexibility as it will adapt to the temperatures without cracking the units.

Make sure that when the repointing is completed, your natural appeal and beauty of the brick or stone has returned. If it’s done improperly, you’ll see a detracted appearance that could eventually result in physical damage to the entire structure. Avoid further damage and extend the life of your brick or stone with repointing and repairs to the joints.

Knowing When to Have your Brick Chimney or Fireplace Repaired

Although you may think that your chimney is in excellent condition, there are visible signs that indicate a repair is needed. As a homeowner, knowing exactly when to have your brick chimney repaired will go a long way to ensuring the safety of the structure—and your home. There are also some less obvious visible signs that you all homeowners should be aware of, so they can get the damage repaired as quickly as possible.

What should you look for to detect brick chimney damage?

Brick is a beautiful structure for any chimney and fireplace, but it’s important to maintain the bricks and avoid potential damage. A visible inspection will alert you to any potential damage from weathering, deterioration and more. There are many aspects associated with your chimney, but be sure to become familiar with the following:

Damaged or Deteriorating Mortar Joints: Though you’ll need a rooftop view of the mortar for an accurate gauge of deterioration, mortar joints can lead to accelerated damage if left untreated. Water from both rain and snow can seep into a small crack in the brick, and during the freeze and thaw cycle, those small cracks become larger.

Spalling: The process of expanded cracks is called spalling, and results in the thin layers of brick being separated from the face. You can find thin layers at the base of the chimney, and the issue should be immediately addressed. Spalling forces the masonry to pop out, and if left unattended will see complete destruction of the chimney.

Crowns: When you see evidence of spalling, it could be due to the chimney crown. Problems are best spotted from the roof, and crowns will cover the brick up to the flue tiles. Like the mortar joints, cracks in the crown gradually grow and water that enters through the crown seeps into the liner. Crown coatings are used to avoid any problems, preventing deterioration and shrinking due to water damage.

Firebox: Check your firebox for signs of moisture or deterioration. Moisture around the firebox is an indication that a chimney isn’t operating the way it should. If the damper becomes difficult to operate, and rust is present, moisture can cause flue tiles to crack. Flue lining damage could result in too much heat entering the fireplace and chimney, causing a house fire.

Flashing: The flashing keeps rain or snow from going into the house where chimneys pass the roof. Flashing is mortared into the brick mortar joints, and holes or deteriorating issues that result in the flashing not being sealed into the chimney well can cause as many problems as the crowns.

Problems can be detected when you’re on your roof or when a contractor is inspecting your roof. You should be alert to any problems that are associated with your chimney before the damage leads to destruction. Make sure to contact a professional chimney repairman or inspector to make sure all repairs and replacements are completed accurately and efficiently.

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