Bricks, mortar, and stone are excellent building materials from aesthetic and functional viewpoints. Properly constructed, homes built from these resources should have a long life, providing robust protection to their residents for many years, even centuries. However, like all homes, upkeep is necessary to maintain the exterior in top condition. The damage from natural weathering exposure to the elements can lead to severe and even lethal outcomes if put off for too long. Make sure that these five devastating scenarios from neglected masonry work don’t happen to you.
1. The Most Serious Problem with Damaged Masonry — Falling Bricks
A terrible outcome that can result from delaying repairs to damaged masonry is that the structure collapses and bricks fall to the ground. Whether it’s a wall, chimney, or other supporting structure, a single solitary brick falling from a height can quickly kill anyone unlucky enough to be struck by it. Imagine the emotional turmoil and guilt you would feel if a family member or passer-by was seriously injured or killed. So it’s a good reason to tackle any noticeable problems with stone or brick constructions sooner rather than later.
2. What Can Go Wrong with Retaining Walls?
Masonry retaining walls often suffer from failure due to the initial design. The soil and water load that the wall needs to keep back is often not adequately calculated. Consequently, the pressure on the wall can cause significant cracks, bulging, and eventual collapse.
As many retaining walls are built on property boundaries along public walkways and roads, an outward collapse can result in a devastating scenario. At the worst, pedestrians can be injured or killed. Private and public motor vehicles may be damaged, as could be public infrastructure. If you’re going to put off neglected masonry work repairs, check your property liability insurance cover. You could face a hefty bill!
Call in brick and mortar repair professionals to fix this problem. They’ll examine the structural design and advise you whether part of the wall can be repaired or will need a complete replacement.
3. Large Cracks in House Walls
Another problem with damaged masonry is the development of large wall cracks from small untreated cracks. These large cracks in walls can happen for several reasons. More minor untreated cracks can let in water, damaging joints and degrading the mortar holding the bricks together. This neglect causes bricks to loosen and the small gaps to expand over time. Bulging of the wall may occur with subsequent collapse. If left to get to this stage of disrepair, remediation work will be costly.
Foundation problems can also cause large cracks. For example, the roots of nearby large trees can damage the foundation. Earthquakes or floods can severely impact the house foundation as well. These types of events cause large structural cracks in the walls and can even result in the house being labeled as ‘condemned’ by local authorities.
As it can be difficult to tell the cause of the large masonry cracks, opt for professional inspection as soon as possible. If underpinning work is necessary, the earlier it’s treated, the less expensive the repairs will be.
4. Chimney Collapse from Neglected Masonry Work
Chimneys require regular annual maintenance. Continual exposure to wind and rain weathers away the mortar, and bricks can be damaged by debris. Brickwork can collapse, falling into the chimney shaft where it may block dangerous gasses from escaping out of the home. Once a fire is lit, it can cause the gasses to be forced back into the household atmosphere, which can be deadly. Crumbling mortar and falling bricks from the roof can also cause injury to passers-by.
It seems like a high price for simply failing to schedule an annual chimney inspection and cleaning.
Another problem with damaged masonry often happens with stone and brickwork walkways. Soil shifting around and in between the path, heavy rains, and flooding, can cause dislodgement of paving. It’s easy for an accident to occur when walking on an uneven pathway. Just a toe or heel catching a loose or overhanging paver can cause a stumble, trip, and fall. And an awkward fall on a hard surface can easily result in broken bones or worse, particularly for frail older people.
Prevent and Repair Chimney Collapse with Expert Masonry Repairs
At Six Penny Chimney, we provide high-quality chimney cleaning and masonry repair services. If you have a home in North Virginia in need of chimney repair, get in touch with us. Our expert staff can also fix brickwork problems in patios, walkways, and retaining walls.