Alan Pettingale presenting Installing Remedial Wall Tie Systems at The Annual Masonry Society in Denver, October 2022
Historic masonry is a vulnerable construction material that can be made more resilient. Historic buildings and structures are often repaired or strengthened to make them withstand the elements, but this process does not always take into account their historic aspects – which could cause even further damage in some cases! The good news? We have found ways of improving these vulnerabilities so they don’t pose as much risk when it comes time for rehabilitation efforts; all while preserving what makes each building unique.
Masonry is a popular choice for construction due to its durability and aesthetic appeal, but it is not without its vulnerabilities.
For example, masonry is susceptible to weathering and can be damaged by freeze-thaw cycles, high winds, or even earthquakes. In addition, historic masonry buildings are often located in urban areas where they are subject to pollution and other environmental factors.
All of these factors can contribute to the deterioration of masonry, and if left unaddressed, this deterioration can lead to structural problems that put the building at risk of collapse.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve the resilience of masonry so that it can better withstand the elements and the effects of time. One way to do this is by using weather-resistant mortar, which can help to protect masonry from weathering.
In addition, masonry can be strengthened through the use of reinforcement techniques such as lateral restraint anchors. These techniques help to keep masonry intact during periods of high winds or earthquakes, and can prevent the building from collapsing.
Finally, it is important to regularly clean and repair masonry to prevent further deterioration. By taking these steps, we can help to preserve the historic character of masonry buildings while also making them more resilient to the elements.
Brick repair means properly maintaining your home’s foundation. This assists in the prevention of cracks in the structure of your home, both internally and externally. My primary concern is in dealing with cracks which appear on the exterior of your home in the brickwork.
Specialized Masonry Restoration of McKinney, Texas, has been involved in the restoration and repair of many different types of masonry structures, both large and small. Some of the major problems we encounter include deteriorated mortar joints and cracked bricks or mortar. Typical repairs for these common problems include repointing deteriorated and cracked mortar joints and removal and replacement of cracked or distressed brickwork.
Whether or not you have just had your building foundation repaired, it is imperative that any defective brickwork be repaired to prevent moisture penetration, a major cause of mold and mildew.
It is especially important to prevent access to the interior by insects and also by rodents and reptiles that will seek warm, damp places to reside. The repair of such damage is of major importance to your well-being and your long-term investment in your property.
In additional common problem comes from moisture saturation, which is usually caused by severe weather, incorrectly-placed sprinkler systems, or defective guttering. These combinations can further aggravate, if not be the cause of, existing problems.
MAINTENANCE & PREVENTATIVE METHODS SPRINKLERS
Check to ensure that your sprinklers are positioned appropriately. It is important that you are watering only your plants and not your home. If you do find areas where this is occurring, then adjust your sprinklers as necessary or have your landscape or irrigation contractor adjust the sprinkler heads. If at all possible, we suggest using soaker hoses on planting beds in close proximity to the house.
After a heavy rain has passed, check your walls visually to see if any areas of brick work are saturated. This is a good indication of your gutters being in need of maintenance.
It is important to keep guttering clear of debris which can come from either leaves falling from trees or wear and tear on the shingles which deposits silt into the guttering and will eventually create clogged areas. Over a period of time, the sealant used between the joints during the fabrication of guttering can deteriorate, allowing the gutter to drip moisture onto the brickwork.
Windows around your property should be inspected periodically for cracks, separation, or wear and tear. When defects are noted it is recommended that new caulking be applied. The best time to apply caulk is during dry weather when the outdoor temperature is above 45 ï¿½ Fahrenheit. According to the researchers at Michigan State University, the money you spend on caulking or weatherstripping is usually recovered in one heating season or less.
REPAIRING CRACKED BRICKS AND MORTAR
SMR utilizes a revolutionary technique developed in Europe, using the latest patented technology to make precision cuts in brick work — Precision which is impossible to achieve using traditional methods.
The tool we use provides for an almost dust-free environment, which is welcomed by the customer as it keeps debris to a minimum, and also provides a healthier, safer work environment for the operator. Using this tool, we are able to quickly and economically repair the damaged area and achieve the aesthetic look the customer desires. Using our system we have effectively obsoleted the old-fashioned, time-consuming method of using a hammer and chisel or large grinder to take the bricks out.
There are many times when SMR is called upon to assist engineers and foundation repair companies to go beyond the normal scope of work practiced by builders. When a foundation is being lifted, isolated areas of affected brick often need to be cut out to allow the foundation to be leveled. What this requires is a coordinated effort in repairing the home to prevent further damage being done to the brickwork. When reinstating brickwork, it is important that the color be matched as close as commercially possible.
HOW TO LOCATE A QUALIFIED MASONRY SPECIALIST
- A good source of information is the Foundation Repair Association, Dallas Chapter. Members, most especially Jim Dutton of Du-West Foundation Repair and Tom Witherspoon of S&W Foundation Repair will recommend the most qualified masonry repair specialists available.
- A good masonry repair specialist should provide references on work they have completed in the past 3 to 5 years.
- Make sure the company has general liability insurance.
- Check the company you are planning to use with The Better Business Bureau to ensure there are no unresolved complaints against it.
- Get two competitive bids, but remember that cheaper isn’t always better
Brick repair is essential to preserving the value of your home.
These columns had cracked and damaged brickwork caused by expanding corroded steel, embedded in the brick work above the entryway to the church. A small piece fell down on a member of the congregation, which alerted the church to the danger.
We were able to take the columns down successfully, and rebuild them, allowing the entryway to be used safely again.
If you have cracked and damaged brickwork, it needs to be stabilized. Specialized Masonry Restoration, McKinney, Texas, are experts at installing specialized wall anchors that stabilize brick.
Have you checked your building for cracked and damaged brickwork lately?
There is an art to properly repairing historic masonry structures and Pettingale is something of an artist. For more than 30 years, he has been designing and implementing a wide range of masonry stabilization and restoration strategies.
Maintaining historic downtowns requires a somewhat unique skill set — unique in Texas, anyway. Pettingale is from England, where the art of remedial masonry stabilization has been practiced for centuries. The oldest structure he has worked on was the York Wall in Yorkshire built almost 2,000 years ago by the Romans. Examples of Pettingale’s masonry expertise in North Texas include Heard-Craig House in McKinney and First Christian Church in Bonham.
So, what does a masonry expert with a deep appreciation for historic structures notice first when he looks at downtown Bonham?
I’m concerned when I walk around the square and see the exposed walls,” Pettingale states, referring to flank walls that were never meant to be exposed to the elements.
If one building collapses, it exposes two flank walls.
People think, ‘Ah, I’ll just slap a bit of mortar on it,’ but it is a bit more complicated than that,” says Pettingale.
To understand how these buildings can be stabilized, it requires a working knowledge of how they were put together in the first place. Concrete wasn’t readily available until the late 1800s, therefore a lime-based mortar, similar to the mortar used extensively by the Romans, is commonly found in Texas structures built 1850-1880. Lime-based mortar, while not as hard as Portland cement, has important characteristics that provide advantages when working with natural stone and other softer building materials often found in historic structures.
Pettingale has been applying his knowledge of historic masonry restoration, when called upon, for the past 14 years in Bonham. Most recently, he has been offering advice as City of Bonham officials and concerned building owners consider devising a comprehensive plan that would ensure public safety in a high-traffic area dominated by historic structures. Locals remember the building that fell 36 hours before a crowd would have been gathered in that exact location during Heritage Day Celebration in 2013.
When one building becomes unstable or actually falls, it can have a detrimental effect on the surrounding buildings.
“When these structures are all intact and tight, they all support each other,” explained Pettingale. “Basically, we are working with a set of dominoes.”
Since the structures are all dependent on each other, it is important to educate owners of the buildings regarding what should be a common goal to preserve their investment and protect the public. A consensus is growing to form a Downtown Bonham Association to address this concern.
“Once the owners of buildings on the square understand the significance of a sound and reasonable project such as this, an effect will be caused to produce a movement that is vital to the preservation of the heritage of Bonham,” David Stapp predicted.
“I think this is a project that should be explored if it will preserve and implement safety to the historical buildings on the square,” added Teresa Stapp.
As this discussion gains momentum, look for Bonham City Council to consider tools at its disposal to ensure public safety.
Pettingale says it is fairly easy to spot any one of a handful of telltale signs that indicate a deteriorating historic masonry structure presents a danger to the public. With the advent of high resolution aerial photography, documenting that danger is relatively easy. Pettingale offered to work with a local engineering student who wants to specialize in remedial masonry stabilization.
Historic restoration in Bonham? “They could use me as a resource,” remarked Pettingale.
Historic restoration is vital to preserve America’s heritage! A group of historic masonry experts, led by Alan Pettingale of Specialized Masonry Restoration, Mckinney, Texas, restored the front wall of this historic bank. With new hand cut stone sills and new lintels were installed and new brickwork was replaced using the original stone footings surrounding the main entrance. New front windows were also installed. The owner gutted much of the interior, removing some modern upgrades, with plans to restore it as closely as possible to the original structure. The most fascinating interior bank vault still contains a huge safe that remains locked, and the combination has been lost over the years. The contents remain a mystery but the owner hopes to find a safe expert who can open it.
Those in Windom regularly enjoyed seeing the restoration, which of course has seen its ups and downs, some weather related. Historic restoration requires sympathetic knowledge and repair techniques.