January 22, 2021

Common Masonry Problems Homeowners Have

1|Interior Water Leaks

Interior water leaks often appear above windows or in areas where lower roofs intersect masonry walls. 

2| Efflorescence and Staining 

Efflorescence and staining on the exterior masonry can appear shortly after construction. There must be a source of soluble salts within the masonry that goes into solution when water gets into the masonry.

3| Condensation and Mold

Condensation in wall systems can result in moisture damage of masonry efflorescence, deterioration of paster, mold growth on gypsum wallboard or wood elements within the walls.

Many walls  hold significant quantities of water for long periods of time, which is especially true if moisture is allowed to run down the face of the walls or if the mason materials are highly absorptive.

4| Vertical Cracking at Corners

Vertical cracks at the corners of masonry walls are often very straight and occur over the thickness of our outer wythe. They are typically associated with missing or ineffective vertical expansion joints

5| Bulging and Spalling of Masonry Walls at Shelf Angles

Bulging or spalling of clay masonry often occurs at shelf angles as a result of blocked expansion joints beneath these angles. As masonry walls expand upward, expansion joints at the outer edge of the masonry cause it to lift and bulge outward.

6| Stepped Cracking

Stepped cracking is another common problem that appears in masonry walls. In most cases, stepped cracking is associated with settlement or deflection. As the support for masonry walls settle or deflect, the masonry attempts to follow it. This movement results in stepped cracks.

7| Corrosion 

Corrosion of metal embedments in masonry walls causes shifting and cracking and can lead to failure of wall ties and anchors, and a reduction in the strength of the wall in the case of steel stud backups. Corrosion problems typically occur when these elements are not protected with galvanizing or coating systems or when these elements are exposed to moisture because of improper detailing or the lack of proper flashings.

8| Freeze/Thaw Deterioration 

Freeze/thaw deterioration results from both materials and detailing/construction. Mortar deterioration problems often occur when it is not mixed properly, which is especially true when excessive hydrated lime or s and is inadvertently added to the batch. Brick deterioration can occur when moderate weathering units are used in severe weathering exposures.

9| Tolerances

Tolerance issues can cause aesthetic or detailing and construction problems. Masonry wall systems are sometimes built out of tolerance due to poor construction practices.

10| Walls Failing from Wind Loads

Although not common, structural failures from high winds are among the most catastrophic problems. High winds can blow over masonry walls during construction, which cause extensive property damage. These collapses are typically the result of improperly braced masonry walls. Bracing systems should be designed by a structural engineer.


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