It all makes us think: how can we make winter living easier? That’s when we realized that keeping a building winter-ready is like keeping ourselves winter-ready. Here are some of the ways.
Make sure your exterior is ready for all types of weather
We provide a lot of services to make sure buildings can withstand the elements, from waterproofing, caulking to detecting and closing up leaks.
Similar to buildings, we’ve got to make sure our bodies can handle the elements, too. That means wearing appropriate clothing for whatever winter can throw at us. This includes proper gloves, boots, pants and thermal pants, jackets, scarves and hats. When the temperatures go below zero, make sure you don’t leave any body part uncovered for too long. That includes your face, wrists and ankles – make sure they’re covered up so that you don’t risk frostbite!
Be ready for surprises
When it comes to buildings, you need to make sure the infrastructure is stable enough to handle whatever the world throws its way. From blizzards to record snowfall, buildings roofs need to withstand hundreds of pounds of added weight, and external fixtures need to be able to withstand fierce winds and precipitation.
Similarly, you need to be a stable force against whatever Chicago winters throw your way. If there’s a blizzard and your car stalls, you need to have the proper winter emergency car kit – with jumper cables, flares and emergency food – to get help and back to safety. You also need to make sure you’re eating well and taking care of your physical health so that you can shovel sidewalks, withstand the freezing weather and simply make it through the work week.
Don’t let the temperature get too low
We insulate buildings and waterproof them to help make sure the piping doesn’t freeze and break. That principle applies to us, too – our cars and our bodies.
If you let your car’s engine get too cold, it will be difficult to get it to start in the morning and it may stall on you when you need it to work the most. Similarly, if you allow yourself to get too cold by not wearing warm enough clothes or staying outside too long, you can cause yourself to get a cold; or, worse, you can seriously risk hypothermia – a condition that can turn deadly if you’re not careful.
There are two scenarios in which a building owner knows it’s time to repair bricks.
The first is obvious: bricks are crumbling, it becomes a safety hazard and an eyesore. The actual corner of your building might be falling apart like in the sample below.
Second, however, the building may be in need of brick repair even before it becomes apparent to the untrained eye. If your building is getting up there in age, it doesn’t hurt to have a brick restoration company visit and review what’s happening on your building. Hopefully, everything checks out and you can have them return in another few years. This would be little or no cost for most masonry companies, and you will have peace of mind knowing that you did your due diligence and were watching out for the safety and well-being of your tenants or employees.
We realize that the last thing you want is to discover another problem, so like going to the dentist, people avoid these spot checks quite often. The problem, of course, is that they eventually pick up the phone only when it’s too late, and there’s actual damage done. Their building is crumbling or bowing.
Still, do not worry. A quality company like Arrow Masonry can fix even very unsightly damage. Please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will discuss your situation at no cost and at the very least give you a quote so that you know what to look out for!
As much as we’d like to think we Americans were responsible for most of our official language, the joy of morning tea or NBC’s “The Office,” credit’s due where credit’s due: the British are really the ones to thank for those. We can also thank them for one of the best techniques to restore masonry, tuckpointing; but, its original purpose across the Atlantic may be surprising.
According to Michael Shellenbarger’s 1991 article “Tuck Pointing History and Confusion” in the Association for Preservation Technology International’s journal APT Bulletin (Vol. 23, Issue No. 3), in the Eighteenth Century the English were the first to come up with the term and the technique. It was developed in order to provide the illusion of bricks constructed together with very precise, narrow joints, achieving a sought-after European aesthetic at the time without the availability of uniformly sized bricks.
- How’d they do it? Two mortars were used – one to match the color or the bricks, which now could be nearly any size or shape – and the “tucked” mortar, of a contrasting color to the brick mortar color, which was inserted into the brick-colored mortar along the joints between bricks. According to Shellenbarger, the tucked mortar joint projected slightly and was shaped to provide a narrow-looking connective element between bricks without needing the precision, notably fooling preservationists for much of the past century.
- Well, how’d we Yankees get wind of this? In the Nineteenth Century, the technique appeared in Chicago before spreading gradually throughout the Midwest. It was officially adopted by the Structural Clay Products Institute in 1961. Today, the technique serves a more practical purpose, allowing specialists to replace or restore external parts of mortar joints in masonry construction (also known as “repointing.”) This becomes helpful after weather and the elements crack, flake or disintegrate mortar joints. While the English mostly deal with foggy, damp weather, the Windy City’s damaging winters can more easily cause moisture to become trapped inside the brick then evaporate when it becomes warmer. This can cause voids, cracks, and unattractive white efflorescence to form on you mortar. It also can cause your heating and water bills to go up thanks to water or air filtering through the gaps in the mortar.
- What does this mean for me today in 2014? Here at ARROW Masonry and Exteriors, Inc., we combine the two purposes of tuckpointing and repointing to provide your masonry with new protection against the elements as well as a crisp new look that will restore your building’s cosmetic appeal. We match your existing mortar color and profile with nearly 90 percent accuracy through careful manipulation of the color additives we use. The tucked mortar also will appear sharper and clearer than before since it has not had a few (or dozens) of Chicago winters to wear it down yet.