Your Place: Bricks will deteriorate until moisture is stopped

Posted: March 09, 2014

Q uestion. Some bricks on the front of my home are deteriorating; I have no idea if it is an animal causing it or what.

Have you ever seen this or heard of this occurring before? Any remedy or repair you could recommend?

Answer. Brick is porous, and the older it gets, the more likely it is to deteriorate because of stresses created by weather.

Your wall is in contact with soil. When it rains, or when snow melts, water in the soil saturates the brick with which it is in contact.

The freeze-thaw cycle accelerates deterioration, called spalling. Water penetrates the brick, and the surface flakes and pops off, creating that chewed-off look.

Some say you can repair a spalled brick, but I believe the solution is to replace it. You'll also need to address the cause: moist soil coming in contact with the brick.

Perhaps removing the soil and replacing it with a couple layers of roofing paper topped with crushed stone, so that any moisture flows away from the foundation, will do the trick.

Q. I have a 13-year-old gas/forced hot air system with an Aprilaire humidifier.  I have not turned the humidifier on for several years because of my concerns with the ductwork.

Upon my many filter cleanings over the years, I noticed that the interior of the ductwork is lined with some sort of fiberboard insulation. Although I have no proof, I'm convinced this insulation could be a place for mold to grow with a constant source of moisture provided by the humidifier.

 Do you have any thoughts or experience with this?

A. My response is based on the flexible duct in my basement that stretches from the furnace through the crawl space under my kitchen addition. The duct has an insulation layer surrounding the inner ducting.

When I disconnected the duct to expose the interior, it was bone dry, even though I use the furnace's humidifier.

In your case, I don't think mold would be an issue since you seem to maintain the ducts.

So use your humidifier, but be vigilant. or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.

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