Brickwork Repair: Checking the Mortar Brickwork Repair: Checking the Mortar

What You'll Need
Mortar mix
Water
Bucket
Tuck-pointing trowel
Chisel
Hammer
Wire brush
Sponge
Garden hose
Mortar bag
Putty knife

Carrying out brickwork repair is important, in order to maintain its good condition, and improve its longevity. In order to do this, it is crucial to keep an eye on the condition of the mortar, that essentially binds the bricks together. Regular checking as well as maintenance is fundamental. In time, the mortar will start to crumble and soften up, due to weakness in its composition, caused mainly by wearing away, moisture effects and climatic changes. Regular maintenance and repairs will help to retain the mortar, and lessen the need for more time consuming repairs such as repointing. Let us discuss some basic checking and maintenance requirements.

Step 1 - Checking the Mortar

Make sure to check the mortar regularly. This will help you ascertain what types of maintenance needs to be done, if any. It will also help to make the repairs more effective and less time consuming, since you would be tackling the problem from the start, rather than allowing it to worsen and become unmanageable. Besides, you will also be bound to save money. Move your hand along the mortar found in the joints between 1 brick and another, so as to inspect its condition. If it feels soft, and starts to crumble, the mortar has started to weaken.

Step 2 - Repairing Missing Pieces and Cracks

If you find any missing pieces or areas where cracks have developed, you must act immediately. These areas need to be repaired, so as to prevent the crack or gap becoming bigger. Besides, these areas will prove to be a problem if left unattended, since they can be a breeding place for insects, or a source of water retention which could cause further damage. Make sure to clean the area well, so as to remove any dust or pebbles. Otherwise the new mortar will not adhere that well. Use a wire brush to do this. Then, once the area is clean and moistened, mix the mortar until you achieve the right consistency. Afterward, apply the mortar by using a caulking gun or a mortar bag. Try to smooth it with a putty knife, so as to achieve a neater result. Also, make sure to remove any excess mortar.

Step 3 - Repointing

If the problem with the mortar is more advanced, you may have to consider replacing it altogether, by carrying out what is technically referred to as the repointing process. Repointing the bricks basically involves removing the old mortar so as to replace it. The weakened mortar will have to be removed by chiselling it away. In this process, you have to make sure to avoid damaging the bricks. Once the cracked, decayed mortar has been removed, clean the area from the dust and other residue. Afterward, spray some water, to moisten the brickwork. Mix the mortar with the prescribed amount of water, and then apply it with a tuck-pointing trowel. Move slowly and carefully, so as to apply it smoothly and neatly. Wipe away any excess mortar once ready.

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