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Typical Masonry Repairs List

Below are some types of repairs found in masonry around the home.

Brick Mortar Joint Wear/Failure
For crumbling or lost mortar, water may be infiltrating the wall and there should be repointing done. The exterior step-cracking pattern, found off window lintels, is in fact common. These steps are caused by differing iron/masonry expansion and contraction rates. Water should be prevented from penetrating; so if there are minor cracks, a bead of silicone can sometimes seal the open gap and is also flexible. If the gaps are wider, it may need repointing. However, if the wall is larger and facing weather, sealing the brick wall if it has not been sealed may help.

For cracking that extends straight through bricks, it might be wise to consult a structural engineer.

Chipped/Cracking Bricks
If older bricks or stone have chipping at the edges, this can indicate too hard of a cement mortar being applied. Where newer bricks are cracked straight through, it points to stress or structural problems. Any structural issue should first be addressed so their results do not reoccur.

Cup Cracking
Found at the outer foundation corners - is attributable to brick and concrete expanding and contracting at different rates. Cup cracking is common and affects the appearance only unless it is severe.

note: the first/lowest brick course contains weep holes that should not be plugged. These openings form on outlet for moisture to escape from the wall.
Foundation Cracking
Generally, vertical cracks in the foundation are less severe than horizontal cracking which should be consulted. Treating foundation issues can include patching methods, hydraulic injection, and steel reinforcing rods. Areas of clay soil are but one cause for foundation failures, sometimes seen as the vertical 'V' shaped crack.

Chimney Cap/Crown
Masonry caps and crowns are subject to wear. The crowns do crack and must be rebuilt every so often. These should be looked at by a professional to prevent water and moisture from entering. Metal replacement caps can protect the inner chimney and keep out the elements.

Brick Spalling
The spalls, or scallops, are caused by freeze/thaw cycles where moisture is trapped in the brick. Some spalling can be prevented by applying sealer and by not applying paint coatings.

Concrete Failures
The causes for concrete failure and early deterioration are usually due to improper drying, including where the mortar is cured too quick, and, improper mixes (excess water or not enough). Also, the aggregate itself could contain clay instead of gravel, or the float is run too many times upon finishing.

  • cracking - smaller cracks, depending on location, usually are best filled with masonry grade caulk. Wider cracks can be patched by first undercutting (shaping a widening inset to retain the patch) and cleaning the area, then dampening, and later sealing with masonry paint before troweling on the desired mix.

  • surface dusting - these areas can be cleaned and sealed.
  • scaling - such as from a bad mix, should probably be replaced.
  • scaling/crazing - might be top-layered.
  • spalling - can normally be patched if this is a surface issue.
  • popouts - these minor contained areas are filled with masonry/epoxy patch.

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