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Old 01-22-2009, 08:25 PM   #1
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Mysterious metal in masonry


As I was repointing my chimney over the summer, I found two or three strange pieces of corrugated metal embedded in the mortar.

Click here for a closeup.

They're about four inches wide and don't appear to serve any purpose. They're well over a foot above the roof line so they can't be flashing and since they're isolated, they would be lousy flashing anyway.

The house was built in 1909. The chimney is river rock with portland cement mortar in the exterior over a brick interior built with lime mortar (common practice around here at the time).

I just pointed right over these strange things.

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Old 01-22-2009, 08:29 PM   #2
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Mysterious metal in masonry


Brick ties? Were they connected to the inner block?

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Old 01-22-2009, 08:29 PM   #3
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Mysterious metal in masonry


If I remember correctly you are looking at whats called masonry straps. They are usually used by nailing them to a wall such as wood, or into the mud joint of cinderblock during construction. They then get bent down as the masons build up the brick wall. They bend them down into the bricks mud so they hold the brick to the wall. They could have used some in the chimney for stability and or strength. I can not tell by the pix. If I was there in person I could tell exactly why they installed them. Dont worry about them. They are ok.
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Old 01-22-2009, 08:42 PM   #4
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Mysterious metal in masonry


agreed.
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Old 01-22-2009, 08:47 PM   #5
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Mysterious metal in masonry


That makes sense. The interior of the chimney is brick while the exterior is river rock. These would help to tie the rock and the brick together.

I wasn't worried about them other than they had rusted a little and looked like they were intended to be protected with mortar. So I mortared over them.

I lived in England for a couple of months in the 90's and a big business there was replacing galvanized wall ties that had rusted after a century of holding brick facades to concrete blocks ("frieze blocks") in residential houses. After hearing those stories, I don't like the idea of any rusty metal in masonry.
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Old 01-22-2009, 09:09 PM   #6
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Mysterious metal in masonry


Keep them covered with mortar. That helps
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Old 01-22-2009, 10:25 PM   #7
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Mysterious metal in masonry


They are there to hold the veneer AWAY from the backing, actually.
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Old 01-23-2009, 12:48 AM   #8
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Mysterious metal in masonry


As the ties rusted away, walls of brick started falling off houses and injuring people. It seems the failing ties were keeping the brick away from the rest of the structure too well.

Since thousands of houses had been built with galvanized ties, this became a national home owner crisis, much like leaking underground oils tanks were/are here.
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Old 01-23-2009, 08:40 AM   #9
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Mysterious metal in masonry


They are building houses every day with galvanized brick ties. It is the industry standard. They have increased the gauge though.
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Old 01-23-2009, 12:06 PM   #10
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Mysterious metal in masonry


In America that makes sense. Galvanized ties will probably last longer in many parts of our country compared to continuously damp Britain. Also brick is a small percentage of residential siding here while it's a majority of residential siding in Britain. They won't all fail at the same time here so it won't be a widespread crisis. It certainly won't get the press that LP siding and synthetic stucco failures have gotten.

Also, we don't expect things to last. If a brick wall starts falling apart after fifty years, big deal. Tear it down and build another. To the British, brick is forever and shouldn't fail like this since there are thousands of ancient brick buildings.

The article I read showed that at least in Britain, stainless steel ties don't increase the cost of construction all that much compared to the cost of the brick and the labor.
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Old 01-23-2009, 06:09 PM   #11
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Mysterious metal in masonry


Ancient brick buildings were built using a different type of construction. They are structural masonry construction, not masonry veneer structures. However, they were sometimes veneered with finished stone tied with various types of metal ties (lead or copper, but sometimes iron), and these have for the most part failed as well (and relatively quickly, too). Stainless Steel is usually a good choice, and is a small portion of the overall cost, although it is often 5 to 20 times as expensive as the equivalent galvanized tie, and has problems of it's own.

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