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What has happened this brickwork ?

  • 21-11-2022 4:54pm
    Registered Users Posts: 546 ✭✭✭

    Looked at a house last week. Traditional concrete block construction. Stone clad on the front elevation with decorative brick around the window reveals. About half of the windows had vertical cracks in the bricks. Can anybody suggest what might have happened and the possible solution ?


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,583 ✭✭✭10-10-20

    Clad? So just to be clear: double-leaf block-built and clad with slivers of brick? Was the cladding added afterwards by any chance? What region and what year was it built, may I ask?

    Imo, the failure-mode of the brick indicates that the underlying block has expanded, but I also note that the cracking also appears around the possible fixture locations of newer windows - correlation or causality... not sure.

    Expansion of the block such as this on corners was commonly observed where there was mineral contamination of the sand/stone mix within the block.

  • Registered Users Posts: 546 ✭✭✭joebre

    The house is about 15 years old. Its clad in a natural stone that I believe is 100mm or more. I believe that the brick is also full brick and not slivers. All work was done at the time of original built. Apart from some minor shrinkage in the mortar for the masonry, it is in good condition. Some of the brick even have two vertical cracks in them.

    Sorry about the rotation of the photos. They are correct in my camera and I don't know how to rotate them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,583 ✭✭✭10-10-20

    See all of that white residue on the first photo? That's "efflorescence" and it's an indication that the salts within the brick and mortar are leaching out due to a reaction with rain/moisture. It's relatively common brick/block/concrete walls and is considered a cosmetic issue, and it appears to relate to the the location of the cracking of the joints and bricks - but it's very noticeable there an it's probably an indication that the walls are cracked for a number of years and are damp at that point from ingress.

    The house is about 15 years old. Its clad in a natural stone that I believe is 100mm or more. I believe that the brick is also full brick and not slivers

    Ok, that makes some sense as I was also wonder about the makeup of that wall as those bricks are 215mm long, making that a deep reveal. So there is a block of 100mm and then the stone cladding making up the remaining ~115mm. That's makes me wonder about the block in the rear - I think it's showing signs of deterioration possibly from pyrite or similar.

    Also, those are newer windows? Why aren't they sealed to the mortar with silicone - it appears to have been left open and that can't have helped with the overall issues.

    All personal opinions above, others may have a different reading on the situation.