Old buildings with masonry work can be one of the most fascinating architectural pieces to look at. The subtle wear and tear and signs of ageing at times make them look even more glorious defying the time they had withstand. That said, these structures need to be taken care of and their wear and tear needs attention before they become too risky to be inhabited.
Structural works in masonry structures can be very exhausting both physically and financially. They demand time, effort, energy and capital and along with all that the ability to make the right decisions, the right team with the right skills. This makes structural works very complicated. One of the most common areas in masonry buildings are the structural walls. They are prone to cracking and many people believe that the only way they can be tackled is by undergoing in-depth structural renovation, which is of course not very pocket friendly.
Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the fact that there could be a number of reasons why cracks might appear on structural walls and they do not always require to undergo deep digging structural operations. There could be a zillion reasons for a minor crack to appear in the masonry and if you can eliminate the root cause or if you are even able to figure out the exact type of crack, you can possibly save yourself from a lot of physical, mental and financial trouble. Here are a few common reasons behind cracks in structural walls and how they can be taken care of.
In very simple words, subsidence literally means sinking of a land. This is one of the common causes of cracks in structural walls especially in area that have clayey subsoil. This happens when the structural walls start to ‘sink’ into the ground because the ground is unable to bear the weight of the building above it. Although construction contractors and structural engineers do take this factor into account at the time of construction, however, over the years other surrounding factors such as leaking drains and moisture from nearby trees can trigger the problem.
The causes of subsidence can be easily eliminated by cutting down nearby trees and fixing the leaked drainage. However, you need to be careful about tree cutting as you can be sued for a possible environmental damage. Another more environmental friendly method is to excavate the area surrounding the sunken walls and fill it with concrete. Root barriers can be added strategically around the trees for an extra layer of security too.
Cracks in Main Walls
Appearance of minor cracks and major fault lines on main walls is very common but can occur due to a number of reasons. The most common reasons include rust and corrosion on wall ties due to environmental factors, expansion and contraction of different materials used in a single structure at different rates due to changes in temperature, or simply poor construction protocols.
Although there are several possible remedies to address these cracks but the most widely preferred method that structural engineers suggest is brickwork stitching. This method involves drilling slots in the walls and sewing the brickwork up by inserting a thick metal rod and grouting it across the wall. This method is cost-effective and provides strength and stability to structure.