Brickwork and Brick Chimney Repair

Long Brick Path

Brickwork is the most common type of masonry in modern times.

For a mason brickwork is the basics, we at Dayco take pride in our mastery of these basic techniques because even though it is the stepping stone of a good mason. We believe that our skills and mastery of the brick are exceptional. There is also a huge level of skill required to achieve almost perfect symmetry with imperfect building supplies.

There are 100’s of brick color and texture options, but the most pertinent question that our company deals with is brick size.  There are two size brick that we deal with the most and that is modular, which are 7 5/8” long, and standard, which are a full 8” in length.  Both brick types have the same dimensional height and width.

The reason this matters is because we only do restoration work; we tear out and replace. We are almost always attempting to match the footprint of what someone built years ago and that we are replacing because its gone bad.  For example a chimney has a specific square or rectangle footprint usually built with one of these to brick sizes, therefore whatever brick size the original builders chose is what we will make as our first choice for matching brick. 

If a brick chimney was built with modular (or mods) and we attempted to rebuild it with standards, then the brick would be too long to fit the length and width unless we saw cut the brick down to size which would add cost to the project.

Chimney Repair Completion

 What is main faults with brickwork on chimneys?

With brick chimney repair in Minneapolis, the brick work typically goes bad from the top down.  In nearly all cases, the deterioration is caused by age and water intrusion.  The principle cause of brick failure in MN compared to most other areas in the northern hemisphere is that brick and mortar simply do not last as long due to the severity of our winters.  March is the toughest month for brick and mortar chimneys in Minneapolis because of freeze/thaw cycling.

When brick are new they generally have what is called a low “suction rate” which is a measurement of the amount of water a brick will absorb or wick into its surface.  Freeze damage is really not an issue.  It’s only as the years go by and the brick ages we begin to see the suction rates increase to a point where  problems like brick spall become evident.

In a climate like Minneapolis aging brick begin to absorb water that penetrates further into microscopic areas beneath the face.  When these small very small pockets of moisture freeze the brick is caused to swell by a very small amount. As time passes and the number of freeze/thaw cycles add up, then water penetration becomes deeper and the brick will reach critical loss of cohesion resulting in a layer of the brick face popping off.

Chimney brick is more susceptible to these processes compared to a home sidewall that has its brick protected by an eve.  Chimneys typically rely on a concrete cap that will crack and deteriorate over time allowing damaging moisture to reach both sides of the brick units below.  A leaky chimney cap is the primary reason that chimneys go bad from the top down.

 

 

Why choose glazed bricks?

Working with glazed bricks is something many clients should consider for projects. They are a little more costly, but the benefits outweigh the costs for many applications.  

Glazed bricks are made in a single firing which fuses the glaze to the facing of the brick. They are fired for diffferent characteristics and strengths, so having a professional on your side when considering the glaze is important.

Glazed bricks can be resistant to fading, fire resistant, heat resistant, and are resistant to abrasion. They also do not absorb smoke like many other bricks. This makes them ideal for grilling locations and patio walls.

They should definitely be considered when talking about kitchen design, where grilling would be done. They are ideal for commercial kitchen areas.

They should also be considered for areas where the smooth look and design will be asthetically appealing. This makes them an ideal solution for many commercial applications where these material strengths can make a huge difference and the smooth clean look will be appreciated.

 

We excel in constructing and repairing brickwork in:

  • brick steps
  • buttresses
  • piers
  • planter boxes
  • sidewalks
  • front entrances
  • stoops
  • chimneys
  • water damaged facia
  • window sill low rock

We use a variety of techniques to best achieve our clients expected results.

Why you should choose Dayco.

Dayco is uniquely qualified because we are an exceptionally skilled brick masonry company.

We haven’t changed from that, we started repairing chimneys because the need was so great. Our brickwork is where our skills were first and where they remain. We’ve got a generation of brickwork experience. Other companies started as chimney sweeps and started doing brickwork because there was a need, but brickwork is their secondary skill.

Over the years, we’ve secured our CSIA certification and have sent our lead installers across the country on multiple occasions to receive advanced training in chimney repair. We able to achieve great success with the most difficult to access jobs as well as large jobs. We can do the jobs that other companies won’t consider.

Brickwork Related FAQ's

How do you color mortar?

We can color mortar using aggregates or pigments. Colored aggregates are preferred.

How long do you have to use mortar?

We should use mortar within 2 1/2 hours after mixing to avoid hardening.

What are glass blocks?

Glass blocks are hollow units of clear, pressed glass that are partially evacuated to provide insulating dead air space.

What is concrete masonry made from?

They make concrete masonry units from a relatively dry mixture of Portland cement, aggregate, water and other admixtures.

Do you have any tips for selecting exterior bricks?

Yes, when you visit the brick yard to choose your new brick, call ahead and specifically ask for an appointment with their most experienced salesperson.  Don’t just “show up” and expect help from whoever you get.  Visit more than one brickyard.

Why do you recommend hiring an expert?

Aesthetics!  Just about anyone could beat a spalled brick out of a wall, stuff a new brick in there and smear it up with mortar.  But therein lies the problem; often when we see a DIY brick repair or tuckpointing job performed by the unskilled and they were not neat and precise about it.  They usually destroy the aesthetics of the building by damaging adjoining brick or using the wrong mortar dye, causing the repair to stick out like a neon sign.  Almost invariably they smear up the brick face on the unit they replaced and any other brick anywhere near it.  We’ve seen unskilled work done on prominent buildings where it’s so bad that, if it wasn’t so sad, it could almost be comical.

What makes bricks sustainable?

Brick is a building component that outperforms wood or plastic in many ways.  This is the reason a brick home is significantly more money than a home with PVC or wood siding.

In terms of recycling, brick is not as desirable.  Most all of the concrete and asphalt recycle yards do not want their end product contaminated with brick rubble.  Brick rubble turns into mush when wet so it cannot be recycled into road base.  It is a lot more expensive for us to dispose of brick rubble than asphalt or concrete.

The good news is that if you build with brick, then it could be someone several lifetimes from now who might be thinking of recycling.

What is the proper maintenance needed to care for exterior brickwork and is it different for a building versus a wall?

One of the best things that can be done to extend the service life of exterior brick is to apply Siloxane sealant.  It is recommended that this product be applied every five to seven years.  If a building owner would do this the brick and mortar would virtually last forever.  The catch is that this product is expensive.  Short of applying Siloxane to the building, regularly scheduled inspections can pay for themselves in the long term.

If you have a free-standing wall, like a decorative wing wall off the corners of a building or a free-standing brick sign out front, you would be wise to resist the temptation to cap the structure with brick just to achieve a certain aesthetic. Unlike a building sidewall that only has one face exposed and is usually protected by overhangs or parapet caps, a free-standing wall is subject to the elements from all sides.  We recommend that any freestanding brick structure be capped with metal or stone, like Indiana Limestone.

When is the best time to replace cracked or damaged bricks?

The best time of year to tackle a brick replacement job is in moderate weather.  In a perfect world, it would be a little cool, no wind, a constant temperature of 55 degrees, and fully overcast skies.  In the real world the brick mason must adapt procedures to accommodate the prevailing weather conditions.  In the late fall we might use accelerators or even baffle a job and supply heat, for example.

When is it time to consider a commercial brick repair?

Address brick, mortar, flashing, caulking or roofing issues immediately.  This could save thousands of dollars.  Very often when we inspect buildings, we find extensive damage that could have been avoided entirely by repairing leaky flashing right away.  Don’t wait!  As soon as an issue is detected, a qualified person needs to find the cause of the problem.  Most buildings are built, occupied and then left to endure the elements for years without any inspections being performed at all.

Water is the number one enemy of brick buildings particularly in the northern climates.  It is recommended that buildings be inspected at scheduled intervals for issues with brick, mortar and flashing.

When inspecting your building, look for issues with the mortar like erosion and pop-out.  Dusting (softening of the mortar) is also a signal that brick has been taking on excessive water and stressing out during freeze/thaw.  When you dig into mortar with a hard probe, like a nail, it should be firm.  You should not be able to carve into it at all.

Brick should be inspected to determine whether there are any spalled units.  Brick spall is usually caused by excessive water absorption, and this is usually caused by failed flashing, mortar failure or even simply brick at the end of its service life. Brick usually fails from the top down.  This is because of water exposure.  The top course of a brick structure that’s exposed to weather absorbs water and then freezes.  Brick windowsills and brick under leaky parapet caps are the number one location for brick deterioration.

Are extruded bricks okay for chimneys?

Yes, these are the most common brick used.

What are brick tongs?

Brick tongs are used to carry brick. They are designed to not chip the brick while it’s being moved from place to place.

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