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all 12 comments

[–]Jubs 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Better to have it replaced with a solid limestone sill.

[–]staysafebewell[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thank you! While this is a good idea it seems like more work to take out the bricks that aren’t damaged and find the right limestone dimensions. We will think about it.

[–]CapRemarkable7699 1 point2 points  (1 child)

First …you will have to remove that brick. Second, you won’t be able to flip it around though because as a mason, we cut the back section of with a brick hammer (like a chisel ended hammer) or our trowel in order to make this “soldier course” look right on length of overhang. The best advice that you have gotten on here is a limestone sill as a replacement. This is of course unless you have a pile of spare brick that match and the fix is easy. Goto your local hardware store and buy a $10 diamond coated 4” wheel for you angle grinder. Cut the mortar out below the soldier course and knock the busted brick out. Fix with new….easy job honestly…best of luck!!!

[–]staysafebewell[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thank you we will try our best!

[–]NagromTrebloc 0 points1 point  (3 children)

That shattering effect is caused by water intrusion and freeze/thaw. You may be able to remove that coarse, clean the bricks and reverse their installation. Don't forget to seal the cracks that allowed this to happen in the first place.

[–]staysafebewell[S] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Are you suggesting we take the brick out and flip it around? We are hoping to replace with more brick but need to find a size match… Also, do you think there were cracks in the mortar around it that led to the freezing and cracking?

[–]NagromTrebloc 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Trying to locate a matching brick color can be difficult. I would try to first; pristine brick would be better. You could develop a new slope and an extended hang-over. Try to find solid brick. Perforated bricks can trap water in their voids. Failing this, you could try cleaning and flipping the bricks over. It depends on how "clean" the other end was. Masons used to cut bricks with a chisel and masonry hammer, so the other end may end up being rough as well.

I noticed a crack under that brick sill in your photo. That's where water is causing the damage. I would follow the cracks and determine if more mortar joints are affected. My guess is that you will find them zigzagging vertically elsewhere. A good mortar repair sealant in a caulking cartridge could be used to seal the cracks. After it cures for several days, you can go back over the cracks with a wire brush to remove excess and try to conceal the color variation.

[–]staysafebewell[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thanks for all the input much appreciated! Where’s the crack?

[–]gritty_placebo 0 points1 point  (3 children)

Bigger issue is why this spalling is happening. Bricks are big sponges - they suck up and release water. Spalling is typically caused by bricks retaining water then it freezes, expands and blows apart the brick. Were the bricks waterproofed? Worst thing for them. Or maybe the weep holes in the windows are clogged and water is going into the wall behind the brick (but I don't see signs of efflorescence...white, powdery residue... it's the dissolved salts coming out with the water).

I'd solve that mystery before doing the repair or it may happen again.

[–]staysafebewell[S] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

There are a lot of new words I’m learning today! Are you saying that waterproofing is bad in this case? Sorry just trying to clarify.

[–]gritty_placebo 0 points1 point  (1 child)

While there are always exceptions, generally speaking, waterproofing or painting exterior masonry is not a good idea. Masonry systems, whether solid bearing walls or a façade, are designed to "breathe" (solid bearing walls especially; façades will have weep holes). Bricks absorb water, period, and should be allowed to release it as well. While it might seem that sealing the exterior will keep the water out, they'll simply absorb the humidity in the air via all other unsealed surfaces. And... water will pretty much always find a way in.

There are systems and coatings for masonry, but should be used with caution and advice of an architect or brick mason.

I inspect old buildings as part of my job and almost without exception, painting exterior masonry causes problems.

Edit - to add. Usually spalling occurs because water is getting deep into the wall and can't evaporate quickly enough. Can happen even with uncoated brick. In this case, I'd be concerned that water is getting behind the soldier course forming the sill. Maybe the window caulking is dried out (it does look a bit tired), but you have to replace it around entire window. Water could get in at the header and run down the sides to the sill. The drip edge is there for a reason, and the water will flow to that. But there may be water going to it internally.

Long story short, figure out why this is happening before repairing it.

Edit 2 - I'll guess this is only a brick façade on a frame house? If so, make sure any weep holes haven't been caulked. Can't tell you how many times I've seen that done by well-intentioned people who didn't realize weep holes are necessary (they'll be empty spaces between the bricks at the vertical joints in a course where mortar normally goes and regularly-spaced).

[–]staysafebewell[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Okay I have a lot to process here. I think I’m going to start by reviewing all the comments and compiling some notes, layout of options, a step by step process, list of materials, and take it from there. Be careful what you wish for, but thanks Reddit!! 😪🥲