Most Common Causes of Masonry Damage

Masonry materials, such as brick or stone, are fire-resistant, durable, and incredibly strong, making the buildings in which they are used equally as strong. However, even with the most durable of materials, sometimes masonry will succumb to various damages. Whether it be from natural factors such as harsh weather or an accident that caused damage, it’s important to identify potential damages and address them promptly. If you’re a property owner or building manager, here’s what you need to know about five of the most common causes of masonry damage.

Cracks

Masonry materials have high compressive strength and a relatively low tensile strength, which means they are easy to crack under the right (or wrong) circumstances. A step crack is a common sight on masonry facades. Climate and seasonal change are the main factors that cause the cracking of a brick façade. If the building lacks a strong foundation, the changes in temperature, humidity level, and precipitation can cause the soil surrounding your foundation to expand and contract it could settle and adjust, leaving bricks to crack.

Bad Bonds

Masonry includes more than just stacking bricks and stones; mortar is needed to connect these materials together. Otherwise, there would be no structural integrity to the building. A big offender when it comes to masonry damage is bond failure. If you use the wrong type of mortar, add too much or too little water to the mortar mix you will have a weak bond, and visible flaking or crumbling will result. It’s not just an eyesore, either; failed bonds allow for more water intrusion which weakens the masonry.

Spalling- Moisture

Have you ever seen a brick wall with random splintering, chipping, or flaking bricks? This is called spalling –Masonry units are very porous and will absorb and hold water. Spalling is usually caused by moisture trapped inside the bricks. Once the temperatures drop below freezing, the water absorbed in the brick freezes and expands. When the ice thaws it creates voids for more water penetration causing more freezing and thawing. Eventually, this process will cause the brick to deteriorate and flake.

Staining

Staining on bricks is a common – and unsightly – problem to have. Business owners who pay attention to their building’s curb appeal will want to clear up any noticeable staining as soon as it shows up. Usually, staining is due to excess moisture, especially from bad gutter drainage. Luckily this staining generally only requires a good pressure-washing.

Efflorescence is a common masonry staining as well. Efflorescence describes crystalline salt deposits. To address efflorescence on brick before or after construction, prevention is more effective than removal. Using the right mortar mix, proper drainage and restoration cleaners are important for any type of masonry to prevent efflorescence staining.

Contact ESI Waterproofing & Masonry Restoration

If you’re concerned about any masonry damage you’ve noticed, contact the professional masonry contractors for assistance. At ESI Waterproofing & Masonry Restoration, we have years of experience providing quality masonry repairs and services for commercial buildings. With state-of-the-art equipment and quality craftsmanship, we’re able to take on masonry projects of any size. As the experts in commercial masonry, we can help assist with any new building or necessary repairs. Get in touch with us today at (617) 265-7222 or fill out an online form to learn more and get started!

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