Brick and stone are sturdy building materials but are still susceptible to water damage. This damage can cause problems ranging from minor to catastrophic.
Fortunately, several warning signs indicate masonry needs repair or waterproofing. These early detection methods can save homeowners and businesses money and reduce the risk of critical damage to structures requiring property insurance claims.
Signs of Water Damage in Masonry
Masonry materials like brick, adobe, stucco, concrete, and mortar are vulnerable to damage from water and moisture. This is why masonry waterproofing services are in such high demand.
While Benjamin Franklin was probably talking about fire prevention when he said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, it applies to all building materials, including masonry. All masonry will eventually be damaged by rain, snow, ice, humidity, and other natural elements.
However, the damage caused by moisture can be minimized or even prevented with proper construction techniques and waterproofing products. There are some telltale signs that your masonry is at risk, including cracking, efflorescence, and mold. If you notice any of these problems in your building, contact a masonry contractor to determine the best action.
Brick walls can crack for various reasons, including settling foundations or changes in soil conditions around buildings. The most common cause of cracked masonry, however, is water intrusion.
Masonry is a porous building material, so ensuring proper drainage and flashing is important. It’s also necessary to ensure brick is oriented correctly so water can move away from the structure.
The most common sign of water penetration in a brick wall is a powdery white material called efflorescence. Efflorescence forms at the points where brick meets mortar, or the “head” and “bed” joints.
Another warning sign is mildew or mold growth. These fungi grow aggressively on carbon-based building materials when hydrated. It’s best to identify and remediate these areas early to prevent mold infestation and further structural damage to your brick. As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Regular inspections by a professional can help spot these issues before they become severe.
Efflorescence is the white chalky substance on brick walls, concrete floors, and paving stones. It’s a symptom of moisture intrusion that can lead to structural damage and mold problems. It is also a health and safety issue, especially indoor air quality.
In many cases, when a home or building owner notices water damage to their bricks, the problem has already escalated beyond repair. This is why it’s important to have a masonry contractor inspect and perform routine tuck-pointing for potential problem areas.
Efflorescence is caused by water seeping into the bricks, dissolving the salts, and then precipitating back to the surface as it evaporates. This process is known as capillary action. The best way to prevent efflorescence is to use a brick waterproofing system during construction and use regular inspections to identify signs of a leak early on. This is where a good inspector shines!
In some cases, damage to masonry can be caused by structural problems in the building. This often happens when a foundation settles, which can cause movement in the structure’s brick walls. When this happens, it can also create leaks and other issues with the masonry.
Moisture is a huge problem for masonry. It causes some issues with the masonry, such as mildew growth, and can also cause structural deterioration in a building. Moisture can enter a masonry wall through deteriorated mortar or cracks in the masonry itself. This moisture can then seep into other materials in the building, such as studs and framing, leading to severe structural deterioration.
When water damages a masonry wall, it can leave a powdery white substance called efflorescence. It can sometimes look like mold growth, so inspecting carefully for any signs of mold and mildew on the brick surfaces is important. You can test for mold by spraying the surface with water. If the area disintegrates, it’s likely white mold.