Weekly Update: Water and Ice Damage

Hello Everyone,

Now that Spring is here, pay close attention to the masonry features of your home. After this intense freeze and thaw cycle of the past winter, there may be structural, and non-structural masonry that needs repair and/or replacement. Did you ever wonder why so many solid masonry structures receive as much damage as they do during the winter in our region? Here is one typical condition; Frost Heave.

Frost heaving (or a frost heave) results from ice forming beneath the surface of soil during freezing conditions in the atmosphere. The ice grows in the direction of heat loss (vertically toward the surface), starting at the freezing front or boundary in the soil. It requires a water supply to keep feeding the ice crystal growth; and the growing ice is restrained by overlying soil, which applies a load that limits its vertical growth and promotes the formation of a lens-shaped area of ice within the soil. Yet the force of one or more growing ice lenses is sufficient to lift a layer of soil, as much as 30 cm or more. The soil through which water passes to feed the formation of ice lenses must be sufficiently porous to allow capillary action, yet not so porous as to break capillary continuity. Such soil is referred to as “frost susceptible.” The growth of ice lenses continually consumes the rising water at the freezing front. Differential frost heaving can crack pavements—contributing to springtime pothole formation—and damage building foundations.

Frost heave effects masonry above ground in walls, chimneys, parapets, brick and stone pointing, stucco facing, and any other masonry, especially porous, and soft stone, or areas already showing signs of distress.

Here are a few pictures of water damaged, frost heaved masonry.

When water migrated into this brick walkway the retaining border, which is set in cement separated due to frost heave expansion.

When water migrated into this brick walkway the retaining border, which is set in cement separated due to frost heave expansion.

A common area where structural integrity is a must, the steps on a walk way to the entrance of a house. Water and ice will pop the brick up over time.

A common area where structural integrity is a must, the steps on a walk way to the entrance of a house. Water and ice will pop the brick up over time.

Once water gets into this block work and stucco, it breaks the entire structure down, leaving a very unsafe condition.

Once water gets into this block work and stucco, it breaks the entire structure down, leaving a very unsafe condition.

When water gets into your chimney top, it pushes and expands the masonry breaking it apart.

When water gets into your chimney top, it pushes and expands the masonry breaking it apart.

If concrete is not placed with the proper control joints, frost heave and mother nature will have it's way.

If concrete is not placed with the proper control joints, frost heave and mother nature will have it’s way.

When water migrates behind stucco facing, it will separate the stucco facing from the  masonry wall. I literally pulled 1 ton of stucco facing off with one tug!

When water migrates behind stucco facing, it will separate the stucco facing from the masonry wall. I literally pulled 1 ton of stucco facing off with one tug!

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