Taking care of masonry work requires you to check in on a structure regularly to spot when it might be time to bring in a professional. A number of environmental factors can leave bricks and mortar compromised, and even simple age can create trouble. Watching out for these five indicators, however, may help you head off issues.
There's a lot more to worry about with masonry than just seeing a puddle of water that obviously leads back to a crack in a wall or a chimney. The ingress of moisture isn't always so clear, and you may only see a bit of condensation forming on the outside of the bricks. If masonry is left go long enough, you might also notice the development of mildew or mold.
2. Bulging Bricks
Any area where the bricks seem to be sticking out or pushing in should be a source of concern, especially if you live anywhere that gets cold winters. Something is probably going on behind the wall, likely caused by water or heat, and a masonry contractor should be consulted. A professional will typically have to remove the bricks and reconstruct the section that is deformed.
3. Vertical Cracks
Up and down cracks that go the whole way through at least one brick are indicative of stress. Seeing one or two in the middle of a structure isn't a big deal as long as the surrounding mortar appears to be holding up well, but any problems near the corners of a chimney or a wall should be checked out by a masonry contractor. Less critical cracks can be filled with epoxy or urethane injections in order to prevent rain and snow from getting into bricks and making the situation worse.
4. Bowed Bricks
If a structure is not holding up as well, likely due to age, you'll see the lines of bricks go from being straight to having a bit of a sag. Bowed bricks can be caused by an array of problems, from a shift in the ground to internal crumbling. Anything that alters the horizontal alignment of the bricks is probably making the structure less solid.
Bricks are created from various types of clay, and those clays often contain soluble salts. Over time, these salts can begin to leach out and stain a wall or chimney. A masonry contractor can examine it and recommend a method for cleaning visible stains.
For more information, contact a company like Mercer County Chimney Services.