Brick Buildings Built to Last
According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (IACHI), brick buildings are built to last 100 years or more. Of course, that only happens with proper maintenance and normal wear and tear. Routine inspections help identify sources of leaks, damaged mortar and cracks.
But what about other components of a brick building: how long do they last?
Caulking: 5 to 10 years
The role of exterior caulking is to seal out moisture and outside air. This helps keep the inside cool or warm. This tight moisture barrier keeps rain and snow out of gaps and joints. Use caulking when window and door frames meet an exterior wall; when different types of materials meet; such as wood with brick; where siding meets the foundation, and where there are gaps in the masonry; or openings for ducts, plumbing or wiring. Over time caulking can harden and lose its flexibility, causing it to pull away from the surfaces it is adhered to. A visual inspection of your caulking can tell you if you need to replace yours, but most should last 5 to 10 years.
Waterproofing: 8 years
Waterproofing agents are often used on masonry chimneys to prevent damage. They are vapor permeable so the brick so that water vapors are allowed to escape. Several products have been developed specifically for use as waterproofing agents on masonry chimneys. These formulas are 100% vapor permeable, which means that they allow the chimney to breathe. Paint or clear sealers should never be used as a waterproofing agent because they will trap water vapors and moisture inside the chimney causing further deterioration.
Chimney crown (concrete): 100 years
The longest lasting chimney crowns are constructed of a Portland cement-based mixture and cast in a way that provides an overhang projecting beyond all sides of the chimney by a minimum of two inches. However, sometimes they are made out of far less durable mortar. When cracks appear in the crown it is time to replace it. Failure to replace a crown can result in far worse damage to a brick chimney.
Keep track of when you performed key maintenance tasks such as replacing caulking or waterproofing your chimney. Maintenance is the key to extending the lifecycle of your brick home or fireplace.