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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Alabama
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    77

    Default Mortar Identification

    I am trying to identify this type of material used in the mortar joints. It appears to be SAND. I took my screwdriver and removed some and it flaked off without any problem. Why I ask is that I see what looks like a pea or smaller type aggregate in the joints.
    Photo 1 and 2 are the same picture different angles.
    Photo 3 is off of the chimney
    Picture 4 window. Several windows have this same problem.
    Picture 5 self explanatory.

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    David D. Whitt
    1st Steps Home Inspections

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: Mortar Identification

    I would be VERY CAUTIOUS in identifying it as a certain type of mortar ... in fact ... *I* would not do so.

    Just me, maybe, but I would report what you saw: 'what looked like mortar was mostly sand in places with some other matter in the mortar'

    Just describe it, don't try to say what type it is.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    Default Re: Mortar Identification

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I would be VERY CAUTIOUS in identifying it as a certain type of mortar ... in fact ... *I* would not do so.

    Just me, maybe, but I would report what you saw: 'what looked like mortar was mostly sand in places with some other matter in the mortar'

    Just describe it, don't try to say what type it is.
    I agree wholeheartedly with Jerry, just report what you found and don't try and determine the type of mortar.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Alabama
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    Cool Re: Mortar Identification

    Jerry/Scott
    I agree with you..

    I reported that the mortar joints needed to be re-pointed and was missing in several places on the building along with dislodged brick. Recommend repair by a licensed mason.

    I was curious for myself, not to tell the client.

    Thank you very much for replying.

    David D. Whitt
    1st Steps Home Inspections

  5. #5
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
    A.D. Miller Guest

    Default Re: Mortar Identification

    DW: Each time I recommend re-pointing or pointing up mortar I include a copy of this:

    Attached Files Attached Files

  6. #6

    Default Re: Mortar Identification

    AD, I had a new construction inspection one time where there were some mortar joints that needed pointing up, I received an irate phone call from the contractor wanting to know what difference did it make which way the mortar joints were pointing. Ya gotta luv it.

    Clarksville Home Inspection
    JW Goad
    TN License #307 | KY License #2402

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    77

    Smile Re: Mortar Identification

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    DW: Each time I recommend re-pointing or pointing up mortar I include a copy of this:
    Thanks AD, great information.

    David D. Whitt
    1st Steps Home Inspections

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, IL
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    Default Re: Mortar Identification

    By the way, interesting IMO link in the references at the bottom of the page that A. D. linked to: how to properly (per the BIA) to remove plant growth from brick:

    http://www.gobrick.com/pdfs/Ivy%20on...TOKEN=98213001

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Near Philly, Pa.
    Posts
    1,643

    Default Re: Mortar Identification

    I agree I'm not sure why a HI would need to determine the analysis of the mortar per se. However, when reading that Tech Note that AD provided, you really need to click on the link about preservation and lime mortar. If a building was constructed using lime mortar then that is what it should be repointed with. In the East, most any structures built before 1925 should be considered lime mortar until proven otherwise. Portland cement mortars are very hard, which can lead to spalling of brick and stone and moisture retention problems. Lime mortar is soft, undergoes autogenous healing (recarbonation from atmospheric CO2) and porous so it breathes moisture vapor.

    There are several good historic mortar preservation companies out there that do a mortar analysis and matching. If you are doing a historic preservation, the formal matching can cost several thousand dollars just for the analysis. However, some, such as the Va Lime Works will do a cursory match for very little. Regardless, these companies will sell you the matching lime mortar and recommend matching aggregate for local purchase.

    This appears to be local creek sand. It was usually dug locally, given a quick rinse if you were lucky then mixed. A lot of impurities in it, which often lead to early joint failures. Beach sand is the worst. Really eats up steel and fails almost predictably. The Calif. coast is crumbling because of its rampant use.
    HTH,
    Bob

    Last edited by Bob Harper; 03-08-2010 at 07:55 PM.
    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  10. #10
    Ken Bates's Avatar
    Ken Bates Guest

    Default Re: Mortar Identification

    Hopefully you are stating that these joints are too large and that they are the worst type to use, worse than raked joints. (although aesthetically nice)

    Lime mortar will often fizzle in acetic acid (vinegar).


  11. #11
    chris mcintyre's Avatar
    chris mcintyre Guest

    Default Re: Mortar Identification

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Bates View Post
    Hopefully you are stating that these joints are too large and that they are the worst type to use, worse than raked joints.
    If these are not raked joints, then what are they called?


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
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    Default Re: Mortar Identification

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Harper View Post
    Beach sand is the worst. Really eats up steel and fails almost predictably. The Calif. coast is crumbling because of its rampant use.

    South Florida has the same problem with older structures too, but that practice by the mid-1930s to mid-1940s, and then even using washed beach sand stopped by the mid-1950s because they found out that washing beach sand still left a lot of salt in the sand. Most spalling problems prior to the mid-to-late-1950s was the use of beach sand, after that it is due to the severe salt environment down there near the coast (any where along the coast has the same problem, still affects modern structures, and the use of epoxy-coated steel only made the problem worse - but localized the problem - in that any and all chips in the epoxy coating caused all the galvanic action to take place at those chipped areas instead of spreading the effects out along the entire piece of steel, meaning that one spot would get eaten through and the rest of the steel would be "okay" ... if you consider rusted through in sections rebar to be "okay" even though it lost it useful strength by no longer being continuous).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Cincinnati area
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Mortar Identification

    Are you going to mention anything about the algae growing on the block, indicating that it has seen more than its share of moisture which likely contributed to, if not caused, the mortar failure?


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