Repairing Brickwork on older properties
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Deteriorating brickwork and how to repair it
We have used brick to build for many years yet we still seem to have problems with it; we fairly regularly come across spalling and deteriorating brickwork and efflorescence.
Efflorescence is the white salt found on brickwork/stonework. It is a natural phenomenon which is where the minerals in water as they dry out come to the surface of stone or brick and leave a white crystalised powder, almost flour like. On a red brick it can stand out considerably, almost appearing bright white and on a lighter white or yellow brick it can almost disappear.
Spalling, the most common deterioration we see
By far the most common deterioration we see on older brickwork is spalling, this is where the face is deteriorating. Often, we find this in softer red bricks which we say are more sponge like and absorb more water, as bricks do get damp and dry out despite what the chemical damp proofing industry would like you to believe. This is part of their function in older bricks to dissipate the dampness and help ensure you don’t get dampness inside.
Spalling occurs to brick or stone when water penetrates the surface and via freezing and thawing starts to cause deterioration to the surface. This in turn allows further water penetration and the surface breaks up further. This ultimately can lead to water damage or structural damage to the area.
Weathering of joints
Over the years, joints tend to weather on brickwork, which are traditionally lime mortar joints which results in dampness being absorbed further into the structure. Resolving the dampness effectively often depends upon the knowledge of the builder or specialist contractor.
Unfortunately, often a cement mortar is used for re-pointing where once it was lime mortar which is inappropriate and simply doesn’t work in the long term. The cement mortar seals the dampness in the building rather than stopping it from escaping as it then makes the wall into a modern raincoat type building, rather than the older style Gortex.
In our experience, other problems can occur, for example, the brickwork can be rendered over with a cement mortar or ‘renovating plaster’, which are generally plasters with chemicals in them which are used internally and can create what is known as the ‘bucket effect’. This is where water is trapped inside for a considerable amount of time until it builds up and then you get marks on the walls.
Put simply the repair work to brickwork has to be appropriate for the age, type and style of the brick.
Call 0800 298 5424 for advice on repairing brickwork on older properties
Want to learn more about Efflorescence and Dampness to Brickwork?
If you wish to read more about efflorescence and dampness, see our specific articles:-
Why have an independent building survey?
Always have an independent building survey as this will highlight any property problems. Caveat emptor means buyer beware and is why you need to have a building survey to find out if there are any problems within the property; the estate agent certainly will not advise you of any.
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