10.10.2014

Easy Mortar Repair

   We have an exterior brick veneer on the lower story of our house. This small run of bricks has been a nuisance since we took possession of the house. After repairing the mortar several times, I realized there was something going on behind the scenes. I removed someone else's sloppy "Handyman Special," consisting of a poorly mixed bag of concrete along the base of the wall, and then located the problem. The metal support shelf had come loose, and allowed the wall to heave with the seasonal thaw cycle.

Super Simple Mortar Repair
    I was able to properly fix the damage, as well as resolve the source of the issue, but I still had small cracks (under and 1/8") in the mortar around the bricks. The bricks were still imbedded and there was no reason to pull out all the mortar and tuckpoint the wall again. A mason would probably argue the contrary, but it is just a veneer and it is my house.
   There are several concrete caulks available that would fit the task at hand. There is even a Quikrete product that is basically sanded mortar mixed in an acrylic suspension. This is a neat idea, but a real bitch to work with. I use a professional caulk gun and it still requires enough force to rupture the tube. Imagine squeezing gravel through a toothpaste tube, then once you have it out of the tube, it is a horrible mess to tool.
   So after some reflection on my options, I came up with a pretty simple solution. Throughout our remodel, I had used DAP concrete caulk to fix small cracks with excellent results. The only issue is that it is smooth and a much lighter shade of gray than the existing mortar. I experimented with dusting the wet caulk with dry mortar mix and the results were spot on. I tested the repairs and they are solid.
   If you have large cracks in a brick or block structure you need to consult a mason and find the source of the problem. This is not a wait-and-see situation, you are one good storm away from water damage or worse. Well done construction on the other hand, with proper maintenance should outlast all the other building materials in your home.

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