Masonry is a very durable product that is meant to last hundreds of years, if the proper material is used installed properly. Masonry is practically maintenance free for a long portion of its life. Unfortunately after many freeze-thaw cycles, water can find its way into any weak areas of the masonry and cause damage. This typically occurs within cracks in the masonry, deteriorated mortar joints, cracks in the bricks or just to much moisture being absorbed by the masonry material itself. In the winter time when water penetrates the masonry, it freezes and expands; therefore it loosens the masonry materials from its surroundings.
Another issue that water causes in the winter time is Spalling. Spalling happens when bricks absorb too much moisture. In the event of the absorbed moisture freezing it expands 10% creating pressure in the pores of the bricks. This pressure causes the faces of the bricks to burst, which deteriorates the bricks from the outside in.
All these issues could be addressed, and a long lasting repair could be provided if the right knowledge, techniques and products are used. The biggest issue with masonry repairs is new cement and old cement do not bond well to each other. For example when brick pointing is preformed, roughly ¾” of the damaged mortar is removed and replaced with a thin layer of new mortar. This new layer of mortar seals the surface and keeps water out. This little bit of mortar is very durable, if it stays adhered to its surroundings. However if it detaches, it is very brittle and will most likely crumble.
The same is considered for repairing concrete damaged by salt or poor craftsmanship, which also causes spalling. Spalled concrete can be easily resurfaced to give a brand new durable surface with a polymer modified cement overlay. If installed properly, it will serve its purpose for many years. If it detaches, it is very brittle and will crumble. Spalling can be addressed by changing out the damaged bricks and waterproofing its surroundings. If the wall is still structurally sound, but has a lot of spalling, it can be reinforced and protected by coating it with a water resistant breathable cement coating. Due to new admixtures, there are a lot more long term repairs that we can perform from 20 years ago. At Sposato Masonry, we take our time not only to fix it, but to understand the root of the problem to prevent it from happening again.