Tips for Cold Weather Brick Repair

Providing brick repair in Chicago and its suburbs is one of our specialties at Fortune Restoration. Having done repair and restoration on thousands of historical homes and buildings throughout the Chicagoland area, we know that brick repair during Chicago’s sometimes howling winters presents its own special challenges. We’ll share a few winter repair tips with you after pointing out some basics about the interaction between bricks and mortar.

Brick and Mortar Basics

An essential fact about mortar is that it’s deliberately made softer than the bricks it separates to allow for building movement.
“When things shift, something is going to crack, and in building construction the intent is that the soft mortar will crack before the brick because mortar is easier to repair (repoint) than brick. That’s why cracks in a brick wall in a historical building, for example, will show up in a zig zag line in the mortar rather than the brick,” says the team at Touchstone Commercial Services.

Winter Conditions

Winter brick repair in Chicago presents its own challenges, and the goal is to eliminate or minimize the undesirable effects of cold temperatures on the materials.
Cold bricks lower the temperature of the mortar placed between them, and if they’re cold enough the temperature of the mortar may drop below freezing and lead to disruptive expansion of the mortar as water in the mortar freezes.

Also, wet or frozen bricks prevent formation of a good bond between bricks and mortar.

With these basics in mind, here are a few tips for brick repair in Chicago during winter.

• Place your materials on planks, not the bare, wet ground, and cover them with tarps to protect against ground moisture, rain and snow.

• If necessary, heat sand and/or mixing water to produce a mortar temperature between 40° and 120°F.

• With temperatures above 32°F, cover the walls with plastic to keep water out of the masonry.

• With temperatures below 32°F, use a ½ inch insulation blanket to reduce heat loss or keep water out of the masonry.

• Do not tool until the mortar it’s thumbprint hard.

• Cover unfinished work to protect against rain, snow and ice.

The masonry specialists at Fortune Restoration are of course familiar with all these winter techniques and many more. So if you need winter brick repair in Chicago, please call us at (847) 647-2500 for your free, no-obligation estimate on your brick repair needs.

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