Commercial building owners have a lot to think about, from improving their internal process to scheduling the repairs they need to complete for their equipment. It can be easy to forget about maintaining the building itself. When that building is made of masonry like brick or stone, it can be tempting to push the issue off under the guise that these materials last a long time. However, attentive maintenance throughout the life of your commercial building can save you time and money. Here’s what building owners need to know about commercial masonry and how to keep it in good repair for as long as possible.
Masonry Is Long-Lasting but Not Eternal
When it comes to building a structure that lasts, masonry is often the top choice. Stone and brick can withstand the elements for a hundred years or more. However, that does not mean that you can simply ignore your commercial masonry and hope that it lasts. While the bricks or stones themselves are very robust, other composite elements are not as hardy.
The mortar that holds these materials together, for example, can last up to 25 years with ideal care and circumstances. However, life-and the weather-is rarely ideal, which means you should expect to patch up mortar from time to time. A compromise in the mortar can begin to damage the masonry itself, leading to compounding problems that dramatically reduce the life of the entire structure. Problems should be addressed early before further damage is done and while the process is less expensive.
Cleaning Is a Part of Regular Repairs
Commercial building owners who are thinking of masonry repairs usually envision adding new bricks or touching up the sealant around things like water pipes entering the building. However, basic cleaning of the bricks and stones themselves is a critical element of keeping the masonry in good condition for as long as possible.
When unwanted contaminants like dirt, mold and algae build up on a building, they can facilitate the development of weak areas or gaps through which water can enter. They also make your building look less visually pleasing, which-depending on your industry and how many customers you see at your facility-could impact your business and client retention.
Keep your masonry clean through simple tasks like power washing, which are best left to a professional. The high-powered spray from these machines can further damage brick if not used correctly. This washing removes the layer of grime and discourages the growth of plants and rooting pests.
Mortar Is Not the Only Sealant
Yes, all commercial building owners should keep an eye on their mortar, or the material in between their bricks or stone, to make sure that it is not cracking or chipping away. However, mortar is not the only thing keeping water out of your interior. Be sure that you spend some time evaluating the caulking on your masonry as well.
Most caulking is located around entry points into the building, such as doors and windows. It can also be found surrounding pipes or other valves that require a hole to be cut in the masonry. Over time, caulk expands and contracts in the weather, loosening its grip and breaking its seal. Replacing caulk is a simple process that can save you from big repairs later on.
Masonry Issues Often Leave Hints
Masonry is robust and can stand the test of time, but most building owners fail to see the signs that something is wrong until a problem is significant. Pay attention to hairline cracks in your masonry, especially if they are shaped like steps (over and up, over and up repeatedly). This indicates a structural issue that must be addressed quickly because the building is not holding up its own weight properly.
Similarly, bricks that appear to bulge, sink in or sit crooked are all small signs that a larger problem may be occurring. Noticing these issues early (or working with a pro to regularly examine the building) can put you in a position to tackle repairs before catastrophic outcomes like wall collapses occur.
Trust the Experts to Help You Keep Your Commercial Masonry in Good Repair
Masonry is certainly long-lasting, and if you put in the effort now, your commercial building can last for your entire life. However, you do not need to feel pressured to have all the answers yourself – you can always work with a professional to identify problems before they balloon into major repairs. The experts at Waterproof Caulking & Restoration can help you with all your masonry needs, from tuckpointing and mortar repair to caulking, waterproofing and more. Reach out to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment to get started.