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Spring is finally here and as the snow melts Ottawa homeowners are best advised to monitor the paths taken by water runoff. Check roof-melt runoff, eve's troughs, downspouts and areas where bricks are located at or near grade. Follow the drips to uncover present or future masonry problems. Are there areas of brickwork that are repeatedly getting soaked? Does the runoff from your chimney cap and window sills drip clear of the brickwork, or does it stream down the masonry wall below? Have you noticed an accumulation of ice against the home's foundation? In most cases, properly installed masonry walls should last generations provided that the moisture control systems designed to protect the building envelope remain intact and effective.
Moisture control failures can be particularly destructive for brickwork during frequent freeze-thaw cycling. Ottawa's Spring and Fall seasons experience periods where daytime highs above zero degrees Celsius alternate with overnight lows below freezing. Some clay based brick products act like a sponge due to high porosity. Daily wetting-freezing-thawing during these seasons can ultimately cause a catastrophic breakdown of these units called spalling. Spalling refers to the detachment of all or part of the brick's face. One indicator of possible future spalling is the appearance of fine white salt deposits on the masonry wall called efflorescence. Common areas to look for efflorescence are below window openings, at entrances to the home near grade, and in other chronically wet areas.
Hiring a qualified masonry contractor familiar with modern building code requirements and industry best practices is the critical first step in repairing both the cosmetic damages and their underlying moisture control failures. Please consider contacting Integrity Masonry's Red Seal Certified Brick and Stone Masons for a no obligation onsite consultation.
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