Illinois was the wettest state in the nation in June with 8.97 inches of water falling – breaking the record set back in 1895. Chicago’s Midway airport recorded more than 10 inches of rain. July is also shaping up to be wetter than normal.

With so much rain, issues with damp walls that may have quickly disappeared in the past, can persist. While no one is  happy to have to contend with a water issue, taking care of the dampness before it becomes a bigger problem is always the best strategy.

Water that seeps through walls at any point is called  penetrating damp vs. dampness in the lower part of ground floor walls which is called rising damp. Tuckpointing, brick repair and caulking can often help prevent penetrating damp. A penetrating damp patch may appear when strong winds derive rain against the house and disappear after the rain.  If a whole wall is damp, it may be that the brick has become porous with age.  Telltale signs of penetrating damp includes blotchy patches on the wall, wet and crumbly plaster, mildew on the walls or even water on the surface. Check out the common symptoms and cures.

 SymptomCure
 Dampness near ceiling adjacent chimney Check the flashing which seals the joint between the roof and chimney, it may be loose or cracked.
 Dampness near the top of an interior wallThe culprit may be a gutter that is clogged or broken.
Whole interior wall is damp Brick may become porous with age, cracks in mortar may allow water to penetrate. Tuckpointing and sealing are potential solutions.
Isolated damp patch on an interior wallCheck for cracked mortar or damaged brick which can allow water to penetrate through the wall. Replace damaged bricks and mortar.
Damp patches around windows Mortar may be broken. Repoint and reseal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you live in Chicago, Orland Park, Downers Grove, LaGrange or other Chicago suburbs take advantage of our free estimates. For smaller jobs you can also snap a picture and upload it right to our site via our contact form. A cure for damp brick walls may be closer than you think.

Learn more about
Downers Grove Tuckpointing
Orland Park Tuckpointing
LaGrange Tuckpointing

 

 

 

Tuckpointing Chicago BungalowsOlder brick homes have withstood many forces of nature. Temperature fluctuations cause the brick to expand and extract. After many years of aging the mortar joints begin to deteriorate. Tuckpointing or repointing when done correctly restores the home’s physical integrity as well as its visual appeal.

Improper mortar mixture is the biggest mistake made when tuckpointing older brick homes. Such a mistake can damage a brick home. Ironically, too strong of a mortar mixture can be harmful. That’s because in old homes (pre-1890) the bricks were weaker and mortar was used not as a glue to hold brick together but as a joint to absorb moisture and allow brick movement. The mortar should be as soft or softer than the original because it will absorb water and act as an expansion joint allowing the wall to give, relieving stress. It is important to get it right to prevent damage. The amount of Portland Cement in a mortar mix can determine its softness or hardness.

Fortunately, a visual inspection by an experienced tuckpointer can provide most of the information needed to use the right mortar mix. He should assess the strength and permeability of the existing mortar. The mortar mix doesn’t have to contain the exact mix as that used in the original. In fact, that would be impossible. The goal is to come close so that old and new mortar co-exist and match closely.

Historically, bricklayers used lime and sand to mix mortar. It is the sand in the mixture that influences color and texture. Vapor permeability is another critical factor. It’s a measure of how much water vapor passes through the mortar. In older brick homes the new mortar should be as vapor permeable and as soft as the old mortar. This prevents damage to the masonry by relieving stresses to the wall. Careful attention to these mortar attributes helps prevent premature cracking of the mortar and spalling brick.

A narrow tuck-pointing trowel may be all that’s needed to scrape the fresh mortar into a joint of an older brick home, but it is an experienced tuckpointer’s observation, along with a spray mister, that keeps the mortar moist and prevents early drying.

 

Is it time to cross some things off the honey- do list? We’re pleased to announce that on Saturday April 18, we’ll be at the Chicago Bungalow & Vintage Home Expo to be held at McFetridge Sports Center, 3843 N. California on the north side of Chicago.  RSVP  on the website for a chance to win some great raffle prizes.Bungalow Expo 2015

If you have questions about tuckpointing your Chicago brick bungalow, cracks in your chimney, or leaks due to deteriorating mortar; this is a great place to find answers.  Owner John Gallagher will be on hand from 10 am to 1 p.m. to meet with you and discuss your project. As an informed buyer, we think you will be better able to find the right tuckpointing contractor for your job.

The event is organized by the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association, a local non-profit dedicated to helping homeowners maintain, preserve and adapt their unique Chicago bungalow. More than 50 exhibitors will be in attendance so it will be a great way to get a jump start on a variety of Spring projects.

See you soon Chicago Brick Bungalow owners.

PostItNoteThere’s no question you have a lot on your plate as a manager of a commercial building. Whether you manage an apartment complex, office buildings or shopping center, there is a lot to handle. Tennant complaints can sometimes take precedence over routine maintenance. What you need are contractors you trust, who will perform tuckpointing and caulking repairs quickly and efficiently, at a fair price. Getting to this situation requires more than sending out bids and awarding the job to the contractor offering the lowest price. You need to build a relationship with the companies you do business with.  Here’s why you should have short, go-to list of contractors for tuckpointing, caulking and other key services you need.

1. There’s value in knowing when you can hold off on a tuckpointing or caulking repair and when you can’t. You want a contractor who will give you the straight scoop – and will tell you when you can hold off on a brick repair and when you can’t. A contractor you trust is one who understands your budget and presents solutions.

2. There’s value in maintaining your brick building, because neglected repairs can get costly. A trusted contractor can help you keep an eye out for early warning signs of mortar cracking or brick deterioration. That saves you money.

3. When it rains it pours. There’s value in knowing you will be at the top of the contractor’s list when you need an urgent repair. Heavy rains after a harsh winter can sometimes yield a flurry of calls from customers experiencing leaks. Do you want to be on someone’s waiting list or dealing with an unproven contractor when you have an urgent need.

At Shamrock Tuckpointing we appreciate building owners who are interested in building a relationship. We’ve been in business more than 30 years, and are fully insured and bonded. We respect our customers budget concerns and have a long list of happy property managers and commercial building owners.

Let us prove we belong at the top of your Go-To List.

masonry_inspectionYou don’t need to learn the hard way how these property management mistakes can quickly take a bite out of your budget. Avoid these mistakes from the beginning to reduce your costs and your headaches.

Forgetting routine inspections

Preventative maintenance is the surest way to keep building ownership costs down. Peeling paint leaves wood exposed leading to wood rot. You now need both a contractor and a painter.  A minor tuckpointing repair is neglected and turns into a complete chimney rebuild costing thousands of dollars. Now that our severe Chicago winter is over, it’s the perfect time to complete a routine inspection of your entire property from the foundation to the chimney to identify potential issues.

Looking for a new contractor with every repair

While no one wants to be taken advantage of, it takes time to get estimates and in the meantime you may have a real problem with tenants.  Instead of looking for a new contractor every time you need a repair, look to build a network of reliable, responsive contractors. A contractor with whom you have a relationship is always going to be your best bet when you have a repair that needs immediate attention.

Hiring non-insured or non-bonded workers

While it may be tempting to hire a laid off buddy to complete a repair at a reduced price, you are putting yourself and your association at risk by doing so.  If your buddy falls off a ladder while completing the job and ends up in the hospital, you or the association could be sued for workman’s compensation benefits as his “employer.” Ask contractors to show that they have liability insurance and workman’s compensation for all employees. Bonding offers property owners additional protection. If a contractor fails to complete a job, the bond can provide compensation.  These are two important reasons to hire insured and bonded contractors.

Protect your property investment. These property management mistakes are easily avoided and will save you time, money and needless hassle.


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Brick Maintenance and Repair Blog

Find useful information and tips for maintaining the value of your brick buildings.
About the Owner

__John_Gallagher

John Gallagher

John Gallagher learned the craft of tuckpointing while in his late teens. His father, a first generation Irish immigrant and construction worker, encouraged his son’s entrepreneurial spirit. John earned a business degree from Loras College, and soon afterward he founded Shamrock Tuckpointing.

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