When you consider how your home or facility is constructed, you may already be familiar with its load-bearing structures. Features like the building foundation, bearing walls and house frame come to mind. These features are crucial to a building’s structural integrity. Not only do they keep a building standing, but they also prevent damage and sagging.
Lintels are another key feature that contributes to a structure’s overall integrity. If lintels begin to degrade, your building risks shifting its weight load. That shifting can cause major damage requiring expensive repairs. The good news is that cracked lintels can be fixed, but the repair process depends on the type of lintel and building material.
What Is A Lintel, Anyway?
A lintel is part of your building’s support structures. They are installed above any opening in the building’s architecture, like windows and doors, to support the weight above and prevent buckling and collapse. A lintel can be made from a variety of materials. The most common choices are brick or concrete.
If you notice a damaged lintel in your building, it’s important to fix it as soon as possible. A broken lintel weakens your building’s weight-bearing support system, which exposes your building to further damage and costlier repairs. Improper weight balance in your building is not a problem that will resolve on its own. In fact, it gets worse the longer it is left unfixed.
You must act quickly as soon as you become aware that your lintels are not functioning as intended.
Signs That A Lintel Needs To Be Repaired
Cracked lintels are a common sign that it’s time for repairs. Sometimes the lintel may not show visible evidence of damage. Examine your building to look for any other clues indicating lintel failure.
When a lintel can’t do its job, you may notice a conspicuous pattern of diagonal stepped cracks. A diagonal pattern of stepped cracks indicates that the weight load is no longer distributed across an even plane. These cracks can occur both outside and inside the building, so make sure that you complete a full examination to catch every issue.
Repairing Concrete Or Metal Lintels
Concrete lintels can be a challenge to repair and could require a full replacement. Sometimes you can patch the concrete if you notice the damage soon enough. Concrete lintels contain steel reinforcements; if these are exposed to water through the cracked lintel, they can rust. Once this occurs, the damaged lintel interior may begin to crack and break apart. This is one reason why total replacements of concrete lintel are commonplace.
Metal lintels come with risks similar to concrete lintels: they rust over time and crack the surrounding structure. Unlike concrete lintels, metal lintels are repairable with resin injections that can halt deterioration and protect against further lintel damage. However, these injections should be done carefully in order to return the load-bearing to its proper configuration; you can ask the experts to tackle this for you if you do not feel confident.
Fixing Lintels In Masonry, Stone Or Timber
Lintels are also available in materials like wood and masonry. In order to repair wood or stone lintels, you’ll need to use helical bars. Helical bars are strong metal beams that reinforce your structure’s weight-bearing ability when your failing lintel cannot. They must be installed in slots inserted directly above the lintel in order to offset the weight.
Most scenarios require the use of two helical bars. For more problematic or complex situations, another set of two helical bars can be installed a few brick rows above the first. The beams are then grouted into place. A careful, skilled installation should leave little visible evidence that helical bars were used.
What About Inside The Building?
Improper weight bearing can cause external and internal problems for buildings. Whether or not your building needs internal repairs will depend on damage severity. If you can see cracks on the internal leaf of a cavity wall, that is an indicator that you’ll need to continue your repairs inside. Internal helical bar installation follows a process similar to external helical bar installation. If no internal damage is noted, then your external repairs should be sufficient.
Trust The Experts To Keep Your Building Safe And Structurally Sound
Whether you’ve noticed suspicious cracks on your building’s exterior or you have already confirmed that your lintels are damaged, do not hesitate to trust the experts. The professionals at Waterproof Caulking & Restoration would be happy to examine your building and recommend effective repairs. Reach out to learn more about the services we offer, ask any questions you may have about such a project, or set up an appointment.