It may be hard to believe, but even a material as sturdy as brick or stone can become vulnerable to leaks if it not given proper and consistent care over time. All masonry requires regular cleaning and maintenance, both of which can help to prevent common masonry problems like moisture intrusion. However, if you have discovered that your masonry is leaking and you cannot determine the source of the leak, there are a few specific areas that you can check. Here are four of the most common causes of leaks in commercial building walls.
Cracks In Masonry
Many people think that a few cracks here and there are a normal part of masonry as it ages. However, cracks can indicate a lot of problems-from the building’s inability to distribute its weight properly to signs of invasive plants that are pulling the bricks apart. Once cracks have formed, the brick or stone is no longer doing its job to keep moisture out, and you may experience a leak.
You can always check your exterior walls for cracks by doing a visual inspection. Pay particular attention to the areas near the ground, where moisture is more likely to collect thanks to grass and snow, if your area is prone to such inclement weather. Water that seeps into your bricks and then expands when frozen can cause cracks.
Degraded Mortar Between Bricks
If you are seeking leaks coming through your walls, the bricks themselves may not be the problem. Instead, you could be seeing leaks due to the degradation of the mortar that holds the bricks together. Most people think of mortar solely as a kind of “glue” that helps bricks stick where they are placed. While this is true, mortar also serves another purpose-to seal the gaps between bricks so that water cannot penetrate.
When mortar starts to chip, flake or crack over time, water can find its way in between the bricks and create an ongoing leak. The good news is that fixing the mortar is straightforward if you use a process called repointing. An expert can properly remove the old mortar and fill the area with new material to reseal the joints. You should leave this task to the pros, because failure to properly support the bricks while removing the mortar could cause more significant damage or, in the worst cases, total collapse of a section of wall.
Errors In Previous Repair Attempts
If the leaks in your commercial building walls are not new, you may still be facing the problem because previous repairs made things worse-especially if those repairs were DIY rather than completed by a pro. On the outside walls of every building are weeps, or what is sometimes called weep holes. If you noticed these gaps the last time you were trying to fix a leak and sealed them up, you are just making your leak problems worse.
Weeps must be left open and clear so that any water that does collect inside the wall has a way to escape. If you have not covered the weeps yourself, check to see if they are blocked by debris like leaf litter or moss and clear them out.
Failed Sealing On Exit Ports
Water will take the path of least resistance to get into your building, and a lot of the time, that path goes through a crack. However, there are fewer large cracks in a building’s exterior than those that exist around the ports for water lines, HVAC piping and more. All of these elements need to exit the building in order to properly hook up.
If the holes in your exterior walls are not properly sealed around pipes and other lines, water can easily get in and cause leaks. Even if you can see that the area has been caulked, it is possible that the caulk is not creating a complete seal. An expert can help you remove all the caulk and apply new material that fully blocks off any of the gaps surrounding your pipes and other elements. Never install new caulk over old caulk-it will not create the smooth, complete seal that you need.
The Experts Can Help You Fix Leaks in Commercial Masonry Walls
If you are facing leaks in your commercial masonry walls and you simply do not know where they are coming from or how to stop them, leave it to the experts. The professionals at Waterproof Caulking & Restoration would be happy to thoroughly examine your building and identify the issues that are causing leaks. Reach out to learn more or to schedule an appointment to get started on resolving your water issues.