Masonry is one of the most durable construction methods, and masonry buildings typically last for decades or longer without needing major structural repairs. Masonry still suffers damage, though. Bricks, mortar, concrete and stone are all porous materials. Water can easily penetrate into them and cause damage. This can cause the need for masonry repair.
Top 5 Causes of Masonry Damage
Other natural processes can damage them as well. Some damage is purely cosmetic, while other damage is structural and can quickly become dangerous. It can be difficult for the untrained eye to tell whether the damage is dangerous or not, so it is always best to consult a professional. What follows are the most common causes of masonry damage.
Leaks are easily preventable as long as you schedule routine inspections and maintenance. A professional can spot a leak long before you can. In fact, in almost all cases, by the time a homeowner or building owner notices a leak in the masonry, there is already extensive damage.
Water damage is certainly unattractive to look at, but it can also cause serious structural problems. Water erodes the mortar that holds the bricks or stone together, which destroys the integrity of the structure.
Water will also degrade the bricks themselves. Erosion contributes to this, but if you live anywhere with freezing temperatures in the winter, the damage will be more severe. Water expands when it freezes, which means that masonry that has water in it is almost guaranteed to be damaged when that water freezes. After the thaw, bricks and mortar may both begin to crumble.
Proper caulking and waterproofing of your masonry can prevent that kind of damage, but only if it is done before the leak begins.
Some cracking is simply the result of the natural movement of the building. As buildings settle, it is quite common for cracks to appear. Likewise, as the masonry itself expands and contracts in different weather conditions, it may crack.
Cracking can also be the result of a problem with the mortar. In these cases, a professional masonry contractor will need to repair or replace the mortar to fix the crack and prevent future cracking. The best way to prevent cracking is to have a masonry contractor inspect the building to catch any cracks quickly, before they become a major problem.
Spalling is the term for bricks falling out of the masonry, leaving gaps behind. There are two main causes of spalling.
The most common cause is water damage. As water penetrates the masonry and weakens it through a cycle of freezing and thawing, it loosens the mortar around the brick and pushes the brick out.
Structural stresses can also cause spalling, in much the same way that they cause cracking. Buildings naturally move and settle over the course of their life, and rigid structures like masonry can be damaged by this.
Spalling is clearly a hazard, as falling bricks can seriously injure people or cause more damage to the building itself. It also creates gaps in the masonry that are both unsightly and dangerous, as they weaken the overall structural integrity.
Staining is almost always the result of water damage. Water traveling through the masonry is visible from the exterior as a dark stain. The masonry looks wet because it is wet. Staining is a cosmetic problem, but staining in your masonry may also indicate that structural water damage is not far behind.
This is a structural problem that occurs when the lateral support anchors are insufficient, corroded or when the masonry has been damaged by a freeze. As the name suggests, displacement is when the masonry has shifted and is no longer in proper position.
Displacement is a major structural problem, and it is expensive to repair. Because it is a structural issue, it absolutely must be repaired as soon as possible. Otherwise, your building is unsafe, both for the occupants and the people who pass by it.
Speak to a Commercial Masonry Repair Contractor
Many of these causes of damage are easily preventable, but only if you have a professional look at your building. Regular inspections by a commercial masonry repair contractor can identify potential problems early on, and can prevent small problems from becoming major issues.
If you have already noticed any of these problems in your masonry, it is even more important for you to contact a masonry repair contractor immediately. The damage may be more extensive than you realize, and your building could suffer further damage and be in unsafe condition.
The contractors at Waterproof Caulking and Restoration are masonry experts who can help you to prevent major damage to your building and repair any damage that may already have been caused. They have experience working on new buildings as well as historical buildings in need of restoration, so you can trust that they will do the job right. To have someone look at existing problems or to make sure your building does not have any unseen damage, contact the contractors at Waterproof Caulking and Restoration.