Leaky brick wall

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Topic: Leaky brick wall

General Discussion April 4, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Leaky brick wall


We have a 1905 row house and are experiencing leaks from a second floor window frame and brick wall.  We are replacing the window and frame but need to consider our options for the leaking brick wall.  The bricks likely aren’t the issue, rather it’s the mortar.  Has anyone in PoPville experienced this?  What did you do to fix it?  We’re considering re-pointing (I understand it may be very expensive), or sealing the wall with something, or even vinyl siding.  It’s the rear part of the house and the lower section of the house already has siding.  We’re looking for an economically solution.

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Consider that it may be the roof / gutters.  Just because the water is leaking out by the window doesn’t mean that’s necessarily where you want to fix it.
Repointing doesn’t have to be that expensive, especially if you’re just patching up a small area and can get access to it yourself.

Oh man, I had the same thing. I agree with Gotry it–check out the roof and gutters first. If they check out, repointing is probably the way to go. If you are repointing yourself, make sure to use the correct mortar made with lime. If you use a mortar with cement in it, it will shred your bricks and you will have even more leaks.
If your house has not been repointed, then you may want to look into it. Bricks need to be repointed about every 100 years or so. If you decide to do this, make sure to check out the PoP post for recommendations on masons: http://www.popville.com/2011/02/dear-pop-repointing-an-end-unit-townhouse/
Vinyl siding would probably also be a feasible alternative, but you may want to have someone check out the bricks anyway. Repointing may not be as expensive as you think, and a mason couild let you know if there’s any danger of the bricks falling out or something like that.

I agree with both of the above but just want to add that if you just spot point the problem area, the mortar color will not match.  It’s almost impossible to match the original color, which also has 100 years of grime on top of it.  So, while you certainly must fix your leak, just be prepared for unsighly mis-matched mortar.  We did this when we bought our house, and later, when we could afford it, we repointed the whole house. 

Agree with above – replacing gutters solved it.

If it is the mortar you should be able to tell easily by dragging your finger/pencil/whatever across the joint hard, if you knock loose a bunch of sand then your mortar is bad, as others mentioned that probably isn’t the source of your leak but you will know.
Get on your roof with a hose and try and recreate the problem. You don’t want to start throwing money at contractors on a wing and a prayer.

Mortar needs to be repointed every 75-100 years. A 1905 house is in that zone. You just have to do it. A correct repointing will last another 75-100 years. If the joints are leaky and sandy, vinyl siding will just cover up a problem that will continue degrading. The degradation will be slower, but it will continue. Not to mention the problem of nailing vinyl siding into sandy joints. The alternative to repointing is to parge the whole wall with a lime based stucco (NOT a fake stucco or cement stucco)

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