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Re: Condition assessment for old brick walls

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Nels, Harold, -

Thanks for the information.  I've dealt with older bricks before, but mostly in 100 (+/-) y.o. residences, and am pretty comfortable with then when I feel I have isolated damage.  Often the culprit is fairly obvious. The mortar is exactly as you describe, and I would have guessed the interior joints to be similar to what I'd get today with type O mortar. Not bad in itself, but not good given the conditions.

I was vague in my description, partly for brevity - partly to get better conversation.  The building is the back lot part of an old two story light warehouse, the bottom of which serves as an office and storage area for a streetfront pizzeria. The second floor was probably also storage, but has been empty for quite some time. The owner, a hobby-investor type, would like to put a loft apartment in this space, and does not appear to have any desire for restoration or historic preservation.  Ideally, he would put a new roof on (the reason I was called initially - for the tie-in details), wipe down the bricks, drop a subfloor and flooring over the old floorboards, and hang a For Rent sign out front. I believe that several thousand dollars of construction budget was the intended scope of the renovation.

This is the first instance I've seen close up where nearly entire bricks have disintegrated into a pile of red dust so cleanly.  I'm talking about something that would be towards the fine end of poorly graded silt (like coarse, red talcum powder). It affected several "lone" bricks, but on one case was spread out over about 8 to 10 bricks.

I've seen Harolds web link before (but didn't have it bookmarked), and also have a bookmark for the GSA website which has some interesting articles (

If this were a large restoration project, with a real budget, I'd definitely be looking to bring in a consultant for the masonry, but in this case my involvement will likely put a stop to the job. Still, it's "worse" than I've seen elsewhere, and was curious about what others thought.
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