Missing The Mortar In Your Vine-Covered Brick Cottage? What Homeowners Should Know

Homes constructed from bricks, stone or block can offer exceptional durability. In fact, one of the oldest brick homes ever built in the United States -- Beacon's Castle in Virginia -- is now more than 350 years old and still going strong.

But even brick homes will occasionally require some attention to keep them in top condition. If you are the proud owner of a brick home and want to help it remain strong and weather-tight for generations to come, the preservation tips can help you understand the problem and how to address it. 

Vines have consequences

Although masonry walls provide a water and airtight seal against the elements, they do have some quirks that make them susceptible to some types of damage. For instance, a vine-covered brick cottage is very photogenic, but problematic because some types of vines cause serious damage to a brick and mortar wall.

These vines climb by producing tiny tendrils that latch onto rough surfaces with tiny feelers. As the vines grow larger and become heavier, the tendrils dig in deeper to maintain their grip and support the weight of the vine.

Moisture makes the problem worse

During the growth process, tiny cracks and fissures are created in the mortar, allowing additional tendril infiltration as well as moisture to penetrate the surface. Freezing and thawing action each winter then exacerbates the problem and soon chunks of mortar have been dislodged, and the masonry wall is no longer able to repel water and protect the home from the elements. 

Vine removal plus mortar repair

Removing the offending vines is necessary, but that is just one part of the process that will be needed to restore the masonry surface of the home. Once the vines have been carefully removed, homeowners will need to inspect the joints between the bricks.

If only a small amount of damage has occurred, it may be possible for homeowners to use a clear silicone sealant or mortar compound to repair the damage. However, if the vines have been allowed to grow on the home's surface for a long time, the damage is likely to be much worse. 

This type of repair job is usually best handled by hiring a reputable masonry repair service to perform a process called tuck pointing that patches and repairs each joint on the affected walls. This is done by cutting out the damaged masonry and then redoing the joint using trowels or other tools to correctly apply the masonry and then smooth and shape its surface. Although the process can be painstaking, the wall will be restored to its original beauty and strength. 

For more information, contact a company like A-1 Rooftop Chimney Sweep.