Foundation Repair, Masonry
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General Inspection for Masonry Foundation Problems
Masonry foundation problems are a normal occurrence, especially in very old houses. You won’t have to demolish your house just because of a problem with your foundation. If these foundation problems are detected early enough, they can be solved quite easily.
Masonry foundations have changed over the last 40 to 50 years. Designers are becoming more adventurous and there has been a greater need for flexibility in building materials. You’ll therefore find that many modern masonry walls are much thinner, though stronger, than in older buildings.
It is important to note that this guide for inspection will only help you notice problems from the surface. It is important to have your foundation inspected thoroughly by an expert once you realize that there is a problem. This will ensure that the underlying cause of the problem is identified and the most appropriate solution applied.
Cracking is one of the first signs for many masonry foundation problems. Cracks can occur as a result of:
- Differential settlement of the foundation
- Contracting and expanding of the foundation due to variations in ambient temperature and moisture levels
- Poor support for over openings
- Differential movement between the different materials used for construction
- Bulging of the walls
- Corrosion of the steel or iron reinforcements
- Drying shrinkage
If you notice cracks in your foundation, be sure to call in a professional to carry out a comprehensive inspection of the foundation. This will ensure that the underlying cause of the cracks is identified.
Deterioration of mortar
Mortar deterioration is a common occurrence in areas where there is excessive moisture. Water and moisture from leaking downspouts, walls and windows can result in the weakening of the mortar.
Deterioration of the mortar in a masonry foundation can also result from the use of high-strength mortar in construction. In extreme cases, the damage to the wall will be so bad that the wall must be rebuilt. Testing for the composition of the mortar is something that should be done only by a qualified structural engineer. They will be able to determine the extent of the damage and the best solution.
Masonry unit deterioration
The different units used for constructing a masonry foundation may deteriorate over time as a result of chemical or mechanical damage. Mechanical damage is usually the result of moisture entering in the spaces between the brick and freezing. Spalling results when the water expands as it freezes.
Chemical damage may occur as a result of exposure to leaching chemicals. Bricks exposed to these chemicals must be replaced.