Many British temperature records have tumbled so far in 2019. We had our warmest ever February day when temperatures reached 21.2C, and the hottest day on record this July when the mercury reached 38.1C. While people can wear short sleeves, sunblock and sunglasses, buildings are less fortunate when it comes to dealing with warmer weather. This can put them under considerable stress.
High temperatures can cause materials to expand, and then contract when the weather cools down which can cause cracks to appear in masonry. Hot temperatures can also cause subsidence – which occurs when the ground beneath a building loses moisture and shrinks causing cracks. More than £64 million in subsidence claims were made as a result of 2018’s prolonged heatwave.
Building and facilities managers should regularly survey their buildings in the summer months – taking a walk around them, to look for signs of movement wear and tear. Cracks can vary in size and appear suddenly during very hot weather, while bowing or bulging walls can indicate that cracks are about to appear.
What should you do if you discover cracks in your building?
The first step is to identify the cause of the crack, which often requires expert advice from a specialist surveyor or structural engineer. Experts may end up suggesting crack stitching as the best solution, which is a permanent and very successful method of structural repair for cracks in masonry and mortar bed joints. It provides resistance against further cracking as well as strengthening the structure of the masonry once the root problem has been eliminated.
How does crack stitching work?
Crack stitching works by inserting long narrow metal bars into the brickwork bed joints and grouting them into place. Firstly a deep chase istwo deep chases are made into the mortar to create a gap in the bed joint. The deep chases are then cleaned out to remove any debris and a bead of grout is injected. High grade stainless steel helical bars are cut to size to fit into the bed joint. Finally, the bars is are then inserted into the bed joint and pushed into the grout. A second bead of grout is then applied on top. Once in place, the crack is concealed using mortar to maintain the original style of the property.
Benefits of crack stitching
Crack stitching is not only a good solution structurally, it is invisible once installed and therefore will not disrupt the aesthetic of your building. Crack stitching also provides flexibility to the mortar and is a versatile solution which can be adapted for almost any job at hand.
Damage or cracks to your building’s masonry are not merely a cosmetic issue, it can indicate that the structural integrity of the building could be compromised. Specialist help should be sought to help assess and repair any damage immediately. Acting fast to address any issue is likely to save you money in the long term by preventing more serious damage.
If you have noticed any cracks in your building or would like to know more about crack stitching visit: https://www.petercox.com/ or call in 0808 274 6729.
By Richard Walker, National Technical and Development Manager at Peter Cox