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Repointing question


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I just bought a house built in 1925. Fortunately, no one has touched the mortar between the bricks. Unfortunately, someone did seal the lintels, and as a result, they are rusted and have produced cracks in the back wall.

My home inspector advised me to repoint the entire house at the time that I replace the lintels. I'm not sure whether this is good advice. The mortar crumbles very easily, it is true, and is heavily oxidized. However, it is not receded from the wall. There are also places where people have drilled into the mortar at various places over the years, leaving holes. Beyond this, there do not seem to be any leaks or cracks.

Should I follow his advice and re-point the entire house?

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Maybe. It's hard to know without seeing it. Your HI's advice sounds like generalized boilerplate blather to me. If they couldn't walk you around and explain specific conditions, discuss mortar types, or otherwise display knowledge of mortar conditions, I'd be skeptical of their advice.

Put up a picture or 4. Establishing shot, then some close ups.

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Sorry. For some reason, it would not let me upload the photos. Here is a link to the photos.

This is the front of the house. You can see some deterioration below the windowsill. There is water damage on the inside. There is also an air conditioner that is often in that window, I'm told.

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Here is a close up of the deterioration:

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This is what most of the mortar looks like:

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Here you can see one of the lintels that is cracking the surrounding brick.

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This is the link to the whole album.

https://goo.gl/photos/tF6nvM8xwEyWrcob7

Thanks so much for your help!

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IMHO, the re-pointing is barely an issue. The one picture, though, shows quite a bit of brick up-lift from the corroded/expanded lintels. That would be my main worry; what condition are the now-apparently-clad-with-aluminum wrapping lintels???

Have the lintel claddings removed; the lintels might be able to be salvaged. If not, it will take a chunk of change to replace them (or, bolster with new steel below existing). Even if the lintels can be saved by treating them to arrest the corrosion, such would also cost a fair amount of coin.

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Thanks much! So, only mortar repair (using appropriately soft mortar) on the deteriorated sections and open holes given this is more than 3/8".

As for the lintels, I'm not sure whether they are salvageable. If this is push up from corrosion then maybe they can be somehow sanded and sealed? If the lintels are collapsing, I came across Thor-Helical masonry beams. Would something like that work?

What might it cost to replace a lintel? This is an expensive, old, and landmarked house, so I want to make sure to do the right thing. (It's 1925 construction.) The inspector quoted $500/lintel. That seems low to me given that they have to cut the brick and take that thing out.

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In Chicago, $500 would cover the cost of the material, handling, and delivery.

Replacement cost, usually based on a minimum of 10 lintels (to get some economy of scale going)...is $1K minimum for a hack, and more like $1300-1500 for someone that knows what they're doing. A single lintel can get kinda expensive ($2k-3K) because of the logistics involved. If you're doing lintels, do every one of them on the house; it's way cheaper in the long run.

Based on the single close up I could open (I'm in China and internet is goofy), you don't need repointing of the whole house; it would ruin everything.

My house and apartment building, both built in the early 1920's, show what happens with repointing.....the areas that have never been touched are fine, excellent in fact, and the areas that were repointed (before I got to there and of course with the wrong mortar) are damaged.

The pic here is my house...the section in the middle is original, the areas around it "repointed" (slathered) with the wrong mortar. Shows what happens with the wrong mortar.

Also, what Jerry said about aluminum wrap on the lintels...... read this.

If your guy didn't call out the aluminum wrap as a problem, he probably doesn't know much about lintels or mortar.

Lintels are real simple. There is a single option. Take out the bad lintel and replace it. After a lot of years of me and a couple of my friends trying out all sorts of grinding and anti-corrosive applications in the hope of finding a previously unknown path to the New World, I've determined there isn't one. Replacement is the option. Opinions will vary.

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Thank you. Everyone. It is amazing that anyone in this business would use the wrong mortar to repair their house or seal in lintels if I--a total amateur--have learned this in a few hours on the internet. (I'm a human doctor, not a house doctor.)

But I wouldn't have fully believed it if it hadn't been for you all. Thank you once again. You saved me tens of thousands on a repointing job, even if replacing the lintels will cost more than I thought.

I will make sure it is done correctly.

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Cool.

You would be amazed at what all of us witness on a daily basis; ham fisted jack legged idiocies perpetrated on innocent houses, and the perps walk free to do it all again tomorrow, aided and abetted by HGTV sponsored architectural crime scenes.

You're always welcome here and tell all your friends....Wei Renmin Fuwu!

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