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8 Warning Signs Your Masonry Needs Repairs

Matt Henshaw | October 16, 2023

Masonry, which includes the construction of structures from individual units like bricks or stones, plays a pivotal role in ensuring the strength and aesthetic appeal of many buildings. However, just like any other construction material, masonry is not immune to wear and tear. It is essential to identify the early warning signs that might indicate the need for masonry repair. Being proactive can save time, money, and further damage to the structure.

Crumbling or Flaking Bricks

Over time, environmental factors can cause the brickwork to crumble or flake. This phenomenon, also known as “spalling”, occurs when moisture enters the brick, freezes, and then expands, causing the brick’s face to peel off or crumble. Not only does this affect the aesthetics, but it also weakens the structure. If spalling is evident, it is crucial to address the underlying cause of moisture penetration and repair the affected bricks.

Mortar Deterioration

The mortar holds the masonry units together, ensuring structural integrity. Over the years, mortar can deteriorate due to various reasons, including exposure to the elements and natural aging. When the mortar starts to crumble or shows signs of wear, it weakens the masonry’s bond. Re-pointing, which involves removing the old mortar and replacing it with new, can restore the structure’s strength.

Uneven or Leaning Walls

If you notice that a masonry wall is leaning or appears uneven, it could indicate foundational issues or uneven settling. Such a scenario demands immediate attention as it poses a potential safety hazard. Professionals skilled in masonry can assess the root cause and suggest appropriate repair measures.

White Powdery Substance

Efflorescence is a white powdery substance that sometimes appears on the surface of masonry structures. It is a result of water-soluble salts present in the concrete or bricks coming to the surface due to moisture; it is purely superficial. It often happens immediately after installation, and in this context is entirely expected and normal. A quick wash with muriatic acid will remove the white film. After this initial period,  efflorescence is symptomatic that water is seeping into the masonry, which can lead to more significant problems down the line.

Visible Cracks

Cracks, even if they seem minor, can be a sign of underlying issues. They can result from natural settling, thermal expansion, or even external impact. While hairline cracks might not be a significant concern, larger cracks can compromise the structural integrity and allow water to penetrate, leading to more damage.

Bowed or Bulging Bricks

Bulging or bowed bricks can result from moisture seeping behind the brick facade, causing it to either pop out or recede. This not only affects the visual appeal but can also lead to more severe structural issues if not addressed in a timely manner.

Discolored Masonry

Discoloration can be a result of water damage, efflorescence, mold growth, or other environmental factors. Consistent moisture issues can lead to mold growth, which poses health risks. Moreover, discoloration might also be a sign of poor-quality masonry materials that can affect the structure’s longevity.

Loose Bricks or Stones

Loose masonry units are a clear sign that repairs are needed. They not only pose a safety risk but can also lead to water infiltration, further exacerbating the damage.

Regular inspections and maintenance of masonry structures are crucial to ensure their longevity and safety. By being vigilant and recognizing the warning signs early, homeowners can avoid costly repairs and ensure the durability of their masonry structures. Whether the concern is as minor as efflorescence or as significant as a leaning wall, consulting professionals who specialize in masonry repair is always the best course of action. They come equipped with the right knowledge and hand and power tools to address the issue efficiently and ensure that the structure stands strong for years to come.

Masonry Sales RepresentativeMatt Henshaw

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MD: Bladensburg
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