How to Prevent Moisture Damage in Masonry

Moisture damage is common in buildings that should be prevented. It is normally attributed to condensation, which can affect the integrity of the whole building. Though bricks are the most susceptible to this damage, can also expose concrete.

However, you don’t have to wait until moisture damage your building project. Fortunately, there are different preventive measures to safeguard your building from moisture damage.

This piece explains all you need to know about moisture damage, such as the causes and how to prevent it.

Water Damage
Source: turnbullmasonry.com

Do Bricks Absorb Water?

Yes, bricks absorb water. However, bricks can only absorb water to some extent. For example, bricks cannot absorb wind-driven rain. Bricks are usually manufactured by fusing raw materials into a water-resistance mass capable of absorbing water.

It is worth mentioning that bricks are of different classes, and each class has the percentage of water it can absorb. While first-class bricks can only absorb 15%, second-class bricks can absorb 20%, and third-class bricks can do 25%. This means the risk of moisture damage in brick buildings varies with class.

Dampness in Masonry
Source: totallandscapecare.com

Causes of Moisture Damage

Before forging on to preventing moisture damage in your building, it is important to understand the potential causes of the issue.

Moisture damage is usually caused by water penetration in the building, either through the foundation or the brick walls.

Water Penetration
Source: shelterworks.net

Older homes have built-in air gaps to drain water from the building, which modern buildings lack.

Modern buildings find value in water-resistive barriers. Though this works fine, it is not as effective as the old air gap, resulting in the risk of moisture damage.

Also, if not properly installed, adhered stone veneers contribute to moisture damage. They make it difficult to keep the wall dry, especially if the water-restive agent is not effective enough.

Your building will always experience some percentage of moisture, commonly attributed to snows and rain penetration through the veneer cracks or interior condensation. Still, the point is to keep it in control so your building can maintain its structural integrity.

How to Prevent Moisture Damage

Again, there are different methods to prevent moisture damage. You only need to understand how each method works to know which option is best for you. Also, even when your building has sustained water damage, you can still find a way around fixing it before degenerating to more severe issues.

Preliminary Planning

Most moisture damage issues result from not incorporating waterproofing components into the structure. It is easy and more affordable to design these components during the planning stage of your building project than later on.

Air retarders, water vapor retarders, and moisture resistant materials are the common components for mitigating water retention in a building.

Site Drainage

Site drainage is another effective method for preventing moisture damage in a building. Many water damage issues are attributed to a poor irrigation system, causing water to flow towards the structure and not away from it. Hence, you want to check the integrity of your irrigation system to prevent moisture damage.

Drainage

Foundational structure

Your foundation also contributes to moisture damage in your building. For example, if your masonry system is weak with cracks, you can expect it to give in to damage from natural elements.

Hence, it is important to ensure your foundation enhances water diversion and moisture infiltration. This involves investing in water-repelling materials, such as capillary breaks. This ensures that your foundation is protected from capillary actions.

Foundational Structure
Source: termiser.com

Wall Structure

Since walls also contribute to moisture in the building, it is important to pay attention to your walls. Design your walls with moisture control in mind. You can achieve this with air gaps and flashing. You also want to design your structure for airflow control by making it airtight but with enough ventilation. While an airtight structure prevents vapor in the building, ventilation prevents mold-like issues.

Thermal Insulation

Insulation is another effective method to control moisture damage. Insulation helps regulate the temperature in the walls, keeping interior surfaces above the dew point. This helps prevent condensation.

Insulation In Brick
Source: architizer.com

Water Repellents

Water repellents are excellent in preventing moisture damage in building projects. Besides preventing moisture buildup, these repellents are also excellent at enhancing the wall’s texture and color. Plus, they help reduce the staining effects of environmental pollutants in the building.

Properla Masonry Crème is an excellent choice of water repellent to consider for protecting your walls against moisture penetration.

Water Repellent
proPERLA Masonry Creme

Integral Water Repellent

This is another type of water repellent that is added during manufacturing instead of after. Adding water repellent during manufacturing offers the advantage of even distribution. With this, the walls have better coverage than surface treatments.

How to Insulate Exterior Walls of an Old Brick House

Again, wall insulation is an excellent means of preventing moisture damage and increasing energy efficiency. However, most old buildings, especially those built before the 1980s, lack exterior insulation, and those that have it don’t meet modern standards. Hence, as an owner of an old house, you want to know the best modern means to insulate your exterior walls.

The best insulation method for your interior walls depends on the walls, as what is best for insulating brick walls might not work well for veneer walls. For example, solid brick walls, also known as solid masonry walls, are best insulated by filling newly-constructed 2×4 framing on the interior with insulation.

These walls are found in older buildings, and the new framing makes up for the absence of cavity need for insulation. Older homes were built with solid masonry walls, made up of outer and inner layers of bricks.

Today’s walls are built differently, featuring a wooden frame on which veneers are attached. The wooden framing is the actual structure of the wall, while the veneers are for decorative purposes.

The difference in insulating older and modern buildings is the lack of cavity in older buildings. While it is easy and fast to fill the cavity in modern buildings, solid masonry needs extra construction to hold insulation materials.

You can know if your walls are solid masonry by measuring their thickness at the doorway or window. Solid walls are usually less than 10 inches thick.

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