Spalling refers to the deterioration and chipping away of brick at the surface level. This deterioration is typically initiated when moisture becomes trapped inside of the brick. Think of the freeze/thaw cycle of New England weather. Water penetrates into the brick as the deep Winter freeze begins. When Spring rolls around, any trapped snow or ice begins to melt causing the face of the brick to chip off.
Common causes of spalling include leaky windows, doors, chimneys, and gutters. Spalling may also be caused by mechanical defects such as use of an incorrect mortar type or the deterioration of the internal anchoring system. Any settlement in the wall, thermal expansion, or vibration, is deflected by the mortar, instead of being absorbed by it. The resulting pressure then transmits back to the brick, ultimately leading to spalling.
Left untreated, spalling can lead to more significant problems such as structural damage. Large chunks of brick may begin to fall causing a safety concern for those around the structure. Take the first signs of spalling as a warning signal to act on it. With spalling, earlier is better.
To prevent spalling, we recommend application of a breathable masonry sealant to the brick wall along with the incorporation of a proper drainage system. Depending on the severity, replacement may involve a few bricks or a whole section.
It is always best to consult with a professional masonry firm to develop the proper plan of action. For consultation and estimation, contact Abbot Building Restoration at 617-445-0274 or firstname.lastname@example.org