For some people, the fall and winter seasons are a nice welcoming change to the hot summer temperatures. However, what comes along with fall and winter is weather that includes moisture, such as rain and snow. For as long as structures have been in existence, moisture has been the main cause for its deterioration. Moisture in all forms affect how well the building materials function.
The way masonry systems are designed should prevent the intrusion of moisture into the building’s interior. It should also keep the building’s structural components safe. If there is any structural break, then your building could be compromised. Masonry units that are made poorly are among the most common failure points. These include mortar joints, hairline cracks, parapet, and door and window details. Water can also come through by vapor condensation and can enter the structure as a result of poor work. The lack of proper drainage can exacerbate the impact of any type of moisture that makes its way through; therefore, creating major damage to the building.
When unwelcome moisture seeps through, masonry units and mortar can crack. Thermal expansion can be a result when water gets into brick, concrete, and natural stone. Thermal expansion can cause the surface to peel, pop out, or flake off. This is also known as spalling, which is caused by too much moisture in the masonry that puts pressure outward. Spalling can ultimately result in large sections of the masonry to crumble and fall off, which will lead to structural damage.
Too much moisture cam also result in the wall rotting, which is very unaesthetic and an unhealthy condition. The insulation can also disintegrate along with staining of the interior finishes. Other effects may include the deterioration and/or corrosion of the wood/steel backup studs, cladding, ties and reinforcements. If this is left unattended to, the excess water can cause an increase and spread of additional structural degradation and complete structural failure.
When there is excess moisture seeping through the masonry, efflorescence is a main problem. Efflorescence is a white, powdery, crystalline deposit that forms on the surfaces of masonry, stucco, and concrete. Efflorescence is caused when salt within the masonry unit itself has been dissolved due to too much moisture and has made its way to the surface of a porous material. It then forms the white, powdery, crystalline deposit as the water evaporates.
In order for efflorescence to happen, three problems must be present.
- There has to be water-soluble salts somewhere in the wall
- There must be enough moisture in the wall to render the salts into a soluble solution
- There must be a way for the soluble salts to move their way through to the surface so the moisture can evaporate, getting rid of the salts so they can crystallize causing efflorescence
Just because sulfates may be present in a masonry wall, it does not mean efflorescence will occur. The sulfates must be dissolved by water in order for it to happy. If there is no moisture then the sulfates will not find their way to the surface. However, there are certain conditions that will aggravate the possible creation of efflorescence. For example, if a block is exposed to cold, rainy weather during storage or if the structure has been poorly designed in regards to drainage and moisture control, then efflorescence is more likely to occur.
Health and Safety
Too much moisture can cause bacteria to grow which can create new odors or worsen current ones. The effects of growing bacteria can cause existing conditions to become worse, such as asthma and allergies. These bacteria have also been known to cause cancer and birth defects.
Managing moisture is a top priority when designing and building, especially here at Fritz Stonework & Retaining Walls. It is important to us that you and your family are safe from any potential harm. We work hard to make sure your masonry is up-to-par and lasts for many years to come. Contact us to today at (631) 861-1530 so we can help you create your masterpiece.