crumbling bricks and mortar


Old 01-10-00, 08:40 AM
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Red face

I live in a home which is over 100 yrs old. The structure was turned into condos a couple of years ago. The foundation is stone. I noticed that in the basement there are brick columns which are appear to be virtually disintegrating. Initially I thought it was left over construction dust, but I have noticed that piles of dust of brick are growing. The columns themselves have these white-ish spots that look like little clusters of snowflakes. I assume it is some type of mold. Does anyone know what is going on? Is my house falling down?
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Old 01-10-00, 04:26 PM
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The damage you see is the result of moisture and age. The white powder comes from the lime that was used in the mortar and it may include protions of the sand and cement also.
As brick ages it tends to retain mositure, especially when sealers are not used. Combine internal moisture with freezing and brick will expand resulting in spalling (pieces poping loose) or cracking. One Hundred Years of being under compression and neglect are contributing factors. Typically repointing or "tuckpointing" is requried somewhere around Thirty Years after exposure to the elements.

The possible solutions vary. One solution would be replacement of spalled and cracked units and repointing the joints. Other solutions might involve replacement of the brick columns with steel or concrete columns.

The conditions described require professional assessment. Possbile sources of free advice and direction are the local Building Offical or the City or County Engineer.

Old 01-11-00, 10:27 AM
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thanks for the info/advice. I feel somewhat better, though recognize proffessional attention is a must!! thanks again.
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