What Pointing Doesn't Buy You: Fixing leakage through solid brick masonry walls

June 29, 2011
Publication: Masonry Construction

Abstract:Brick veneer and solid brick masonry exterior walls may look the same, but from a water management standpoint these two systems function quite differently. Veneer walls rely on backup waterproofing and flashings to preclude building leakage, while solid brick masonry walls rely on their mass to absorb and store water which can later dry out.|Remedial waterproofing measures for veneer walls are fairly straightforward and typically include restoring continuity to the backup waterproofing system. But how do you remediate chronic leakage through solid brick masonry walls? The solution involved converting the brick spandrel panels from solid brick masonry to panels with backup waterproofing and flashing behind a brick veneer.|Overcladding solid brick masonry walls is usually not an option since most owners are not willing to change the brick aesthetic of their building. Instead, many building owners elect to apply a water repellant or sealer in conjunction with pointing mortar joints. While this technique usually hinders water intrusion initially, it is not a long-term or foolproof measure to mitigate leakage, particularly in chronically leaking buildings. In these cases, owners often fall into a pattern of repointing and resealing every few years, while never really solving the leakage problem.|Another option, recently developed and implemented by national engineering firm Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. (SGH) on a 107-year-old apartment building in Boston's historic North End, entails converting chronically leaking solid brick spandrel panels to brick veneer with backup waterproofing and flashing.