Split Face Block Repair

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We have noticed an increase in the amount of calls to our office relating to water permeation and damage on new construction (buildings only 1-3 years old). You would not think that new buildings would have such issues but we have considerable evidence to the contrary. In fact, we are providing you with two recent articles (one from the Chicago SunTimes and one from the Chicago Tribune) remarking on how prevalent these problems are.

Undoubtedly these leaking issues derive from initial workmanship flaws coupled with an inferior building material. Summer months can bring temperatures as high as 120 degrees on block walls which are directly exposed to the sun. Block walls exposed to the wind, snow and ice can drop the wall temperature to 20 or 30 degrees below zero. These temperature extremes expand and contract the block units creating small hairline cracks within the mortar joints and often within the block themselves. If water penetrates these cracks and freezes the cracks get larger. This pattern is repeated every freeze/thaw cycle. The same thing happens during the settling of a newly constructed block wall building. As the new foundation shifts it puts pressure on different areas of the building causing structural cracks within the mortar joints. Vibration from traffic and construction also puts stress on the block facade exacerbating the cracking of the mortar joints.

To combat these complaints Arrow has devised a preventative maintenance program addressing each new construction problem and its solution. The following photos illustrate these serious workmanship concerns.

Split Face Block Repair Images

Split Face Block Construction Problems:

photo1Water is penetrating through vertical and horizontal structural cracks during directional rains causing through-wall leaks at various locations. This particular crack is due to a structural defect and actually extends a total of 18 feet down the wall.
photo3Water is entering the wall above the window angle irons, thus rusting the lintels and causing leaks above the windows.
photo4Concrete block is very porous by nature and is typically used as an interior back up wythe, not as a facade. Due to its high porosity, it soaks up water/moisture readily so any excess will spill over into the interior without proper back up. This photo shows a high saturation content within the block as evidence of the efflorescence.

Split Face Block Construction Solutions:

In order to stop the water penetrating problem on this building, Arrow had to first grind out all vertical and horizontal mortar joints. All ground out joints were primed with a caulk primer then sealed and tooled with a polyurethane caulk to match the existing color and profile of the original joints. Once the mortar joints were sealed, the block itself needed to be waterproofed. Arrow chose to use an elastometric coating (a heavy duty rubberized paint which can be tinted to match the color of the block) due to the extreme leaking. This particular method repels water most effectively on split face block and comes in a variety of colors.

Brick Wall Problems:

photo7Open mortar joints, cracks and separations between the mortar/brick allow water to pass through to the inner walls (drywall). The condition of this masonry is indicative of a building over 50 years old however the building is only 2 years new. Either the original mortar mixture was too weak, the brick was too dry or the masons were in a hurry.
photo8This building is only 6 months old and is already showing signs of moisture problems due to the massive amounts of efflorescence. The original brick was probably not stored properly or the masonry wasn’t allowed to dry completely before it was cleaned.

Brick Wall Solutions:

For both of these buildings, the proper way to repair these problems would be to grind out all vertical and horizontal mortar joints, then tuckpoint them completely using a mortar color and profile to match the existing as close as possible. Once all tuckpointing repairs are completed and allowed to dry, the walls should be sealed with a silane based waterproofing agent.


“This operation was the neatest, cleanest and most professional one ever performed on our house and condominium. It was executed in a short time with maximum efficiency. The workers were polite and well equipped. The estimator was very knowledgeable and presented her evaluation in a business-like fashion.”
Stonehill, A, Evanston, IL

“I think you did an excellent job, from the estimation process to the quality of the work that was performed. Everything was handled in a professional manner.”

Weintrob, D, Oak Park, IL

“You were very prompt in answering my inquiry and giving an estimate. Your workmen were very business-like, clean and quick to answer questions I posed. Your estimator was very courteous to me.”

Enright, S, Arlington Heights, IL

“Yours was a clear and understandable proposal; also competitively priced. The estimator who came to assess the damage and prepare the estimate/contract was very presentable and answered my questions clearly. I got the impression Arrow would do the best job. I was right!”

Micheli, S, Inverness, IL

“I make a lot of decisions based on ‘gut reaction’. They rarely fail me. I chose Arrow because of your estimator, over four other bidders. Your estimator and the crew proved that Arrow was the best company. I’m very pleased with the results and would always use Arrow in the future. Feel free to use me as a reference.”

Bosley, E, Chicago, IL

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Commercial Tuckpointing, Masonry & Brick Repair in the Chicagoland Area