Some of the signs that masonry may need repairs include cracks in the foundation, widening of the joints, crumbling mortar in the joints, and crumbling or cracked bricks. These problems may be caused by the foundation settling, exposure to the elements or water damage caused by leaky roofs or gutters.
The type of repair needed depends on the type of damage and what caused it. Cracks in the foundation and widening of the joints generally stem from the foundation settling. If the building is no longer settling any further, the damage may be able to be repaired by repointing. This involves replacing the missing mortar or adding new mortar to cover the cracks. The entire foundation may require repair if the settlement remains active.
If the mortar between the joints is crumbling or missing, it should be replaced by a process known as tuckpointing. Such damage not only looks unsightly, but it can also cause bricks to fall out, water to seep behind the walls and bees to make nests within the bricks. Tuckpointing involves using an angle grinder to remove a portion of the old mortar. The joints require thorough cleaning before mixing new mortar and working it into the joints using a brick trowel.