Snow is falling but bricks shouldn’t be!


There is no doubt that during extreme winter weather, the exterior of your building will experience some wear and tear. Over time, however, minor cracks in building masonry can lead to hazardous and unsafe conditions, is here for you and your snow issues. Therefore, buildings should be visually inspected for signs of masonry deterioration such as loose/open mortar joints, step cracks in brick masonry and bulging masonry.

Merritt Engineering professionals want to make sure your building is in safe condition by providing these 5 potential issues to be mindful of…

1. Inadequate Masonry Ties & Anchors
During restoration, masonry ties are often installed to prevent bricks from pulling away from the building. Primarily, these ties and anchors provide a means of connection and reinforcement between the façade and the backup wall. Inadequate or poorly designed anchors can quickly cause safety issues. Merritt Engineering professionals typically specify stainless steel anchors, which eliminates the possibility of rust during restoration projects. Be sure to check building codes and standards to determine specific size and spacing requirements.

2. Fake Header Course 
Some buildings are designed to have a header course every 5 levels of brick. Header courses distribute a load to the backup wall and ultimately the foundation. One error, which can occur during initial construction, is when they are not installed at all. Another error, which can occur during restoration, is when headers are not properly secured or kept in placed. Lastly, failures can occur when fake header courses are installed to maintain the aesthetic appearance but don’t serve as load transferring.

3. Defective Mortar
One main factor affecting mortar strength is weather.  If mortar is installed in low temperatures, it may become defective, leading to a decrease in bonding strength. Strength is extremely important since mortar keeps your brick building structurally stable. Merritt Engineering professionals recommend installing mortar in temperatures above 40 degrees for optimal results.

4. Deteriorated Steel
Steel lintels and spandrel beams are designed to support the weight of the bricks above it. Should this steel become compromised, it will begin to deflect allowing the bricks to shift and separate. This separation leads to water infiltration and eventually, rusting. Additionally, water penetration can cause the deterioration of bricks due to freeze-thaw cycles when shrinking and expanding occurs. Deterioration can also occur at the window lintel due to water infiltration. Remember, full steel failure may cause a complete collapse which is the worst case scenario.

5. Corroded Shelf Angle
Similar to issue 4., deteriorated steel, when waterproofing is not installed properly, the carrying angle can rust, causing further structural damage to the building.




Bottom line – make sure your building is in safe condition BEFORE an accident happens. By being proactive, and putting a routine repair and maintenance program in place, Building Owners and Property Managers can protect themselves against unnecessary emergencies and expensive headaches down the line.