Brickwork is a very durable material. but with the coming of winter it starts to get its annual attack from frost. Durability of brickwork is well established, many building still standing today are many centuries old and still in great condition.
In the early times where just sun baked clay blocks, but over the centuries the process of making bricks has become very sophisticated. Modern machinery has honed the process to produce a variety of shapes and colours, textures and finishing`s. Bricks today are a lot more durable with modern firing techniques that create a very durable veneer and can contribute to thermal value when used in conjunction with a well-insulated cavity wall system.
Most problems that cause damage to brickwork are due to water ingress, if your brickwork is kept well pointed and maintained this would not normally cause any problems and is just part of the bricks life. Problems can occur where water is allowed to saturate the brickwork, mainly due to poor maintenance of the building. Water can ingress for many reasons
• Poor care of down pipes
• Poor care of guttering
• Poor care of your bricks pointing
There are many places where water to ingress into your brickwork, especially around the areas listed above. Other areas of your building will be proned to damage and these can be normally be around windows and cills or any area of brickwork that protrudes out from the normal line of the building (areas marked in red), these features just need extra attention. Your brickwork should be checked over annually at all levels just to check it`s condition. The use of a pair of binoculars is a good idea to check the higher levels and there is normally no need to hang from a ladder to check, unless you have visible damage or damp patches occurring on the interior of your building.
Another cause of damage is the use a high pressure hose, especially on older buildings. Be very very careful when considering this as huge damage can be caused. Always contact a professional when considering this.
In modern construction of buildings today, great attention is paid to the strength of the bricks used and their suitability for a certain position on the buildings. The use of bricks with a very dense structure and high durability to water ingress should be used around ground level if possible and for all brick cills and special feature bands. Most problems will occur where you`re building if of some age or reclaimed bricks have been used and not suitable for the task.
Spalling is a term used to describe brickwork that has a look of the face being blown away, this is normally caused by excessive water ingress into the brick face, allowing it to retain the water. This water has frozen and expanded, causing the brick to fracture and over time the face has flaked away.
Another reason for Spalling in older Brickwork which has needed re-pointing is the wrong type of pointing. You must seek advise on the brickwork’s original type of mortar used for the pointing when it was first constructed; the use of modern cement based mortar can have a dramatic effect on a building that was originally pointed with a lime mortar.
Older bricks were not as strong and the lime mortar allowed some movement and would not crack the bricks, if you use a modern, very strong mortar this will in nearly in all cases create Spalling and damage the brick veneer very quickly. Another problem with using strong mortar is that it does not allow the water to seep through the mortar joint, instead the water comes through the bricks after they have been saturated through rainfall of damaged drainpipes.