What signs of masonry cracking should I look out for?
The majority of cracks occurring in masonry walls are often present in the building as soon as it has been built or are the result of moisture movement in porous materials. Providing the building is well designed and constructed, it is unlikely that these potential cracks will ever become a major problem. If you become aware of cracks that have recently formed or have started to increase in width and are more than 2mm wide it is advisable to seek professional advice.
Why should I repair my cracked masonry?
Once masonry begins to deteriorate, the rate at which it continues to deteriorate grows exponentially. Repairing masonry as soon as possible costs less and protects you from much greater expense in the future. The use of masonry reinforcement is a very simple and cost-effective way of greatly enhancing the strength and durability of masonry construction by providing both structural and crack control benefits.
What does a masonry beam do?
The installation of a beam in the wall above the foundation will help carry the load over the weak ground. Using a masonry beaming system where there are continuous horizontal bands of brickwork or other masonry in the building, we can help to restrain diagonal cracking, redistribute weight, counteract forces and add strength to your property.
What is underpinning?
Underpinning is a method of strengthening and stabilising the foundation of a structure that transfers the load of a building onto more stable ground. Underpinning solutions are generally sought where the use or safety of a building is or is likely to be compromised by excessive ground movement, usually as a result of changes to the supporting soil, where there have been additions to the structure or changes in its use, or where the original foundation is simply no longer strong enough to support the load of the building. It is worth noting that it is difficult to identify a single cause of structural cracking, instead it is usually more likely that a combination of factors have contributed to the damage.
What are the signs of structural movement?
Look out for general distortions in the fabric of the structure and particularly for cracks around one part of the building, most likely to occur in external walls or at junctions of these with internal cross walls. Check for cracks in plaster, jamming doors and windows. Where structural cracking was already present and no proprietary system of monitoring is in place, look for fresh or clean bricks within the existing cracks.
Will underpinning be necessary?
Not always. It is estimated that less than 50% of properties suffering from the effects of subsidence or structural movement require some form of underpinning. Where underpinning is likely to be unnecessary, a combination of masonry reinforcement and minor remedial measures, such as unblocking and repairing drains, removing trees and strengthening soils may be all that is required. The extent of repair should be determined by a suitably qualified professional.
Text reproduced with the permission of St Astier Ltd