Anyone out there who's repaired a brick wall? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Have a 2-story very old brick house that has about a 4to6-inch (out from the rest of the wall) by 5-feet wide by 10-feet long, approximately, bulge in the front wall (from upper part of lower story to lower part of upper story). Whole house needs re-pointing (tuck-pointing), but is it ever possible to sort of make everything level (vertically) again? I believe damage came from water (sill under one window needs replacing) funneling down and freezing. Bulging spot is green from mold. Can a qualified brick person do this? What would you do? Doesn't seem to be crumbling, or look as though it will fall down today, but it makes me sort of nervous. I'm sure it's been that way for years (house was empty for 2 years, & I just got it).

Not too many re-pointers around here, called one guy who wanted $50.00 just to come out and look! Well, I said I needed a challenge....guess I need to be careful what I ask for......would be grateful for any advice (please don't tell me I'm crazy, I already know that!).

-- Bonnie (, July 15, 2001


If its an old house its really a brick house and the bricks are the walls unlike today's brick homes that are just a fake exterier trim. If you do have buldging then your wall is in distress and you need to fix more than the brick. The foundation under the brick is likley the problem. If the guy is any god with brick homes, not just exterier bricks pay him the $50. A suspect $50 is nothign compared to what it will take to fix the issue.

-- Gary (, July 15, 2001.

I think that with a little patience and the willingness to learn, you could do this job yourself.

Depending on the age of the home, you will need to find out what kind of mortar to use. If the house has been built within the last 40 years or so, you can use most types of ready mix mortar. But, if the home is really old, you will need to mix your own mortar using a recipe similiar to the type they used way back when. The problem with using new ready mix cements is that they are much much harder than the heavy sand and lime (?) mixes they used back in the early 1900's. What will happen, over time, is that the old brick can be "crushed" and destroyed because the mortar is too hard. Using an old recipe will also match better in color than the new mixes.

As far as doing the job yourself, it can easily be done. It just takes alot of time. Find the right mason, and he will be able to give you all the right tricks. Just buy or borrow the tools, a trowel, a groove tool, a screwdriver, and a really strong cake decorating bag thing a ma jig (for applying the icing and mortar in your case). If you are replacing or removing the brick, buy yourself a masons line to lay up your brick.

You can also ask your local library to help you find a book about this process. They can order books from other libraries which might help.

I can get your an old mortar recipe if you would like. I also have more suggestions if you are going to tackle this yourself.

-- clove (, July 15, 2001.

I also suspect that Gary is right about the distress. Mold is a deffinate sign of water problems, so it could be that water has caused your brick joints to fall apart.

-- clovis (, July 15, 2001.

If you can email us a picture of the outside of the house and of the attic{my husband does stone and brick work}he maybe able to help. What is the age of the house? what type of roof rafters does it have? and is the side that is bowing does it have a chimney? he asked me to ask those ?'s.

You maybe able to chisel out the bricks and repoint them but it sounds like the joists and supports need to be looked at also,water could have gotten to them.

Where do you live? state wise that is.

-- renee oneill{md.} (, July 15, 2001.

Bonnie I think it would be useful to determine if this is a 'brick house' or a 'brick veneer'. In other words are the bricks what hold up the house or vice-versa? Brick veneer is popular in some areas as a exterior surface and is only (usually) one brick thick. The bricks in a veneer house rely on the timber frame to hold them up. However if the bricks are the actual structure of the house you have a whole lot more serious problem and I would certainly seek expert advice. A 'brick house' will have brick columns and be at least two bricks thick, maybe with an air space between them.

-- john hill (, July 15, 2001.

I have been thinking about this all day. :-)

The bulge does not come down to ground level so I imagine the foundations is not at fault. The bulge extends between the lower and upper floor but Bonnie did not say the upper floor has sagged, does this mean that the bulgie bit is not actually supporting the weight of the upper floor? The house is overdue to TLC and water has been playing a part.

I understand pointing has little to do with the structure of the wall it just gives a dense surface that turns the water. If the pointing is in bad condition the mortar will be damaged.

The wall has bulged I guess this means the mortar has crumbled and the bricks are now just stacked up rather than bonded together.

So here is an idea. Collect a large number of hardwood wedges and find the areas of the wall that are concave at the bottom of the bulge. Scrape out enough of the crumbling mortar from under a brick then tap in a wedge. If this is done under enough bricks the wall will be slowly lifted and tilted back into line, at least that is my idea. Once things are back in place draw each wedge and force new mortar into the space.

This work has the obvious potential for damage to house and body if not undertaken with appropriate care.

Maybe some practical chaps (and chapesses) can comment on this idea which I have never tried and anyway I know diddly squat about brick and masonary work.

-- john hill (, July 16, 2001.

Find somebody who really knows how your house is built--an architect, competent builder, or engineer. If it isn't simply a brick 'veneer"--and if it's a real old house it's probably not veneer--then that bulge means serious structural problems. Look for clues in what might have sagged or moved inside the house--floors sagging, gaps opening where walls meet, plaster bulging, etc. I can see having to jack up the upper floor from the inside and then rebuilding the damaged area. Whoever said that water was probably getting in was probably right. Likewise the advice about soft mortar--modern mortar with lots of portland cement in it will ruin your old masonry in a hurry. Sounds like $$, but if its an old house, it's worth saving.

-- John Vallely (, July 17, 2001.

Definitely get an engineer to look at it. You can, if necessary, live in a house that has jacks and braces installed inside if they make it temporarily structurally sound, while you're saving for the structural repairs. If you're inside, you may not be able to live without them.

-- Don Armstrong (, July 17, 2001.

Thanks, everyone, for your great suggestions - really appreciate your time and effort. Am still trying to get a bricklayer out to look, but they're all "busy", so I'm going to (slowly, VERY slowly) do what I can and go from there. Thanks again

-- Bonnie (, July 19, 2001.

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