22 Wednesday, 2023

What Causes Spalling Bricks?

Bricks have been around for centuries as men have trusted their durability and usefulness in construction, interior design, and landscaping. However, even the most resilient brick walls can succumb to the elements with time. In particular, bricks are prone to spalling, a form of erosion that causes the surface of the brick to flake off or peel away. Understanding what causes this phenomenon is essential in preventing further damage to your wall or chimney.

At D’Angelo and Sons, we have encountered our fair share of brick repair in Hamilton and of spalling bricks in homes and businesses around the area. This article will discuss what causes brick spall and the steps you can take to treat or prevent this issue. If you need help with brick spalling, our experienced professionals are here to assist. Give us a call to see how we can help.

What is Spalling of Bricks?

Spalling occurs when the surface of a brick erodes away, leaving exposed voids in the structure and weakening its integrity. This can cause bricks to flake off easily, leaving unsightly cracks that can ultimately weaken the structural integrity of a building or other structure. But what exactly causes spalling bricks, and how can you prevent it?

What Causes Brick to Peel?

There are several reasons why brick may start to peel away, but the most common cause is moisture exposure. When exposed to water and excess of it gets stuck within the masonry, it leads to a process called the thaw cycle. As the water in the brick freezes and expands, it puts pressure on the bricks, which can cause them to crack and flake off. The more extensive the damage to the bricks, the more the number of freeze or thaw cycles. Here is a more detailed look at some of the causes of spalling brickwork.

Water

There are different ways in which water can cause spalling in bricks. One way is through the thaw cycle mentioned above. Another way is if you have a deficient drainage system that causes water to always fall on the brickwork of walls, chimneys, or any other brick surface. This will lead to brick erosion and can cause spalling. Additionally, if there is direct contact between rainwater or groundwater with the bricks, it can cause spalling. Surprisingly, even water vapor can let moisture into your brick masonry and cause peeling. Finally, water can penetrate your home’s foundation and cause spalling bricks if the soil is always wet.

Pressure Washing

Another cause of spalling bricks is pressure washing. Even though it may seem like a good way to clean your brick walls, it can have the opposite effect and lead to erosion of your walls’ surface. The high-pressure water used in power washers breaks up the mortar between the bricks and weakens its overall integrity.

Chemicals

Chemicals like non-breathable sealants are believed to protect brick masonry from water penetration. However, these oils or resins hold the moisture in, which can accelerate erosion and cause spalling. To determine if brick surfaces have been sealed, splash water on the surface and observe its reaction. If it beads up, it’s been sealed with a breathable or non-breathable sealant.

Poor Construction

Low-quality construction is another cause of spalling on bricks. This means that your property’s masonry wasn’t constructed correctly or with the right materials, leading to eroding and cracking over time. Improperly built walls can be caused by inadequate foundations, incorrectly mixed mortar, soft or weak brick, or faulty pointing.

How Do You Stop Bricks from Spalling?

Now that you know what causes spalling bricks, it’s important to take proactive steps to prevent further damage. Here are a few tips on how to stop bricks from spalling:

Install an Effective Drainage System

The first step to preventing spalling is installing an effective drainage system. Make sure all gutters are installed correctly and in good working order. Additionally, check for any other sources of water, such as pooling rainwater or groundwater near the brickwork, and divert it away from your property.

Seal Brick with a Breathable Sealant

When brick absorbs water, it can also release it through its pores. But if the brick is sealed with a non-breathable sealant, it can cause moisture to build up and lead to spalling. Instead, use a breathable sealant that will block water without trapping moisture inside the bricks.

Inspect Brickwork Regularly

Finally, inspect your brickwork regularly and check for any damages or signs of trouble. If you notice any spalling crack, pointing that’s beginning to fail, or other problems, it’s important to act quickly and repair the damage before it leads to spalling.

By following these steps, you can help protect your brick masonry from water penetration and keep it in good condition for years to come.

Spalling Brick Treatment

If the problem is identified early on, it may be possible to treat the spalling brick without needing to replace them. Depending on the extent of the damage, treatments can be carried out by an experienced mason. The repair process involves cleaning the brick of any debris and brushing off any loose mortar. Then, he’ll replace them with new bricks and perfectly matched mortar.

However, if the damage is too severe, you may need to remove and replace any affected bricks. This should only be done by a professional mason to ensure the job is done right. One thing you should keep in mind is that if you fail to identify the cause of the problem and its solution, the spalling will likely return.

Are Spalling Bricks Dangerous?

Brick spalling is not just a cosmetic issue – it can cause serious safety concerns if not addressed. Spalling bricks can put your property at risk of structural failure due to weakened support walls or compromised foundations if left untreated. Additionally, any loose pieces of brick could be a hazard if they were to fall off and injure someone passing by.

Health Problems

Mold and mildew can form within the walls due to moisture trapped in the bricks, leading to potential health issues. This is why it’s important to treat spalling bricks right away before any of these problems occur.

Extensive Structural Damage

If you fail to address the cause of spalling brick and repair the damage, it can lead to extensive structural damage. This could include weakened support walls, compromised foundations, and more. You’ll then have to dig deep into your wallet to hire professionals to repair the damage.

Chimney Collapse

If the spalling affects a chimney, it can lead to its collapse if left unchecked. When this happens, you do not know where the bricks will land, causing further damage to your property and putting people around in danger. This is why it’s important to inspect your chimney regularly for any signs of damage and address them immediately.

Conclusion

In conclusion, spalling bricks can be a major headache if not addressed properly. Take proactive steps to prevent moisture from entering your brick structures and inspect regularly for any signs of trouble. If you find any damaged or loose bricks, have them repaired or replaced immediately before it leads to bigger problems down the road.

Contact D’Angelo and Sons to Fix Your Spalling Brick Problem

If you’ve noticed any signs of spalling brick, contact D’Angelo and Sons right away. Our experienced masonry experts will identify the cause of the problem and provide a solution that will address the issue immediately. We understand how important it is to treat brick spalling quickly and efficiently, so don’t hesitate to give us a call today.

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