"Understanding Your Home" by Building Inspector Mark Visser
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Dangerous and beyond repair!
Loose bricks and cement patches are a hazard for anyone walking below. Solution: Rebuild from roofline up.

Spalling
This porch support needs tuck pointing. Up to 3" of mortar is missing and several bricks are getting loose.




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Chimney and Masonry Wall Deficiencies
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Bulging masonry walls. Cracks in masonry walls. Spalling. Tuck pointing. Parging. Vines on masonry walls.

Bulging walls
. In older buildings the walls that run parallel to the joists are prone to failure. It is possible to stabilize bulging wall as long as the bulge is less than 1/3 the width of the wall. Normally, star ties are installed through the masonry wall using threaded rods that will go through at least three joists. The "stars" may be round, oval, square, or diamond shaped.
If the bulge is just under the eaves, it may be a sign that the rafters have sifted and are putting too much outward pressure on the wall. If this is the case, repairs will involve first stabilizing the wall and then correcting the rafters.
Cracks in solid masonry walls. Minor cracks are common but major cracks may be more serious as solid masonry walls are load-bearing. Consult an structural engineer before making any repairs. Vertical cracks may require underpinning. Cracks above windows and doors indicate weakness or failure of the lintel, in which case a new lintel should be installed.
Cracks in brick veneer walls. These cracks are not as serious as those in solid masonry walls because they are not load bearing. However, if the crack continues down the foundation wall, there may be a more serious problem that should be investigated.




Bulging wall below the eaves
Spalling. Spalling bricks are the result of freezing and thawing of trapped moisture in masonry. Often the reason for excessive moisture in brick is poor design, poor material or poor workmanship or a combination of two or all three factors. The moisture will freeze and creates pressure resulting in flaking or crumbling bricks and mortar.
Most of the spalling takes place on the east and south side of a building when the temperature is around the freezing point. Spalling is an indication of moisture problems that should be corrected.
Tuck-pointing. The loss of mortar between bricks is a common ailment. Replacing it is called tuck-pointing or pointing. All loose mortar has to be removed and flushed with clean water. Spilled and excess mortar should be removed with a stiff brush. The new mortar has to be compatible with the old and this is even more important for old buildings. Consult an expert about his before starting.
Parging. Parging is a thin layer of cement used for re-surfacing masonry work. It is often applied to basement walls. Parging can also be used for sloped basement window sills and chimney caps.
Application: Dampen the wall and apply a concrete bonding agent before applying the parging in layers of up to 1/4' (6 mm) thick at a time. Keep the parging moist for 24 hours between coats.
Vines. Vines on a masonry wall can trap moisture close to the brick and provide a hiding place for unwanted insects. The suction roots can (over time) damage the mortar joints and leave unsightly scars after it has been removed. Vines also will creep between siding panels and underneath asphalt shingles causing more damage. It may look pretty in the summer but removal is strongly recommended.

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