Considering IRA with brick masonry

Apart from aesthetics, when brick is selected for new construction, test data provided by the manufacturer is often reviewed for strength, saturation coefficients, and perhaps efflorescence. Unfortunately, another important characteristic—the initial rate of absorption (IRA)—sometimes receives little attention.
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Mixed-up systems

The control and management of rainwater on and within a curtain wall assembly is critical for long-term performance and durability. Water-control strategies—most commonly drainage or barrier (exclusion)—can vary by system type and glazing technique.
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Moisture in inside-out building enclosures

In modern buildings, there tends to be moderate tolerance for design/construction errors affecting thermal performance, air leakage, and moisture migration. This is primarily due to the typically low interior moisture levels found in these types of projects and seasonal variation in exterior conditions.
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Keeping mortar compatible

Using a mortar harder than adjacent stone or brick can affect the adjacent masonry, from localized spalls along the edges of the mortar joints to severely deteriorated masonry units surrounded by intact pointing mortar.
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Revelations with reversible repairs

When designing repairs to existing buildings and structures, emphasis is typically on durability, with the goal of achieving the longest-possible service life. However, there are some cases in which it is desirable to design repairs that are reversible or removable.
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Avoiding mistakes with radon

As an odorless, colorless gas, radon is often overlooked and underestimated, but it has potentially fatal consequences when left unmanaged. It is a radioactive gas believed to be the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, and has also recently been linked with blood cancer in women.
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Framed (in concrete)

Repairing and restoring historic concrete often involves dealing with concealed conditions contributing to distress. This 1920s Pacific Northwest building features cast-in-place concrete façades finished with facing mortar.
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One thing leads to another…

During a visit to review curtain wall assemblies on a project under construction, we noticed something unrelated—brick ties supporting a cantilevered through-wall flashing drip plate at a window opening in the exterior masonry. This unusual condition invited further examination of the cavity wall construction.
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Caveat emptor

Condition assessments are conducted to evaluate existing conditions, identify distress, determine appropriate repairs, and assist property owners in understanding possible future repair and maintenance costs.
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