Masonry Repair

 

 

Repairing cracks and sagging lintel over garage door.

Sagging steel lintels and cracks above garage door openings are one of the most common masonry repairs. Through this two part article below, we will explain what causes the lintel to sag and how it cracks the brick and mortar above garage doors, and how to fix the sagging lintel and mortar cracks above a garage door.

Mortar Cracks Above Garage Door

Do you have cracks in the brick and mortar above garage doors?

This common brick repair project is a result of just a few things. The two most common causes of cracks above the garage door are foundation settling or sagging of the lintel.

While major settling will require foundation repair to correct the problem before repairing the brick, most cases are minor settlement and can be easily repaired by removing the damaged mortar and bricks and replacing them.

The other possible cause is far more detailed. While it may appear to be sagging in the middle of your steel lintel, it is not sagging. This is virtually a physical impossibility due to the design of the lintel. There may be a small amount of sag over a long distance, but more often the lintel is twisting. As the center twists from each end, it allows the middle to bow downward, and the back of the lintel is twisted against the back of the brick. When this happens, it cracks the brick outward and allows the brick to fall down onto the lintel. As it falls in, it cracks the brick and mortar near the ends of the lintel.

The original cause of this masonry problem is generally poor design. There must be an allowance at each end of the lintel for the expansion of the metal as it gets warmer. When the metal expands and is pressing against the brick and mortar at each end, it relieves the pressure in the easiest or weakest point. This is in the middle of the lintel where there is pressure from above and nothing holding the bottom.

Because most engineers have a very low understanding of masonry, and do not understand the true cause of this issue, they will call for thicker steel. Steel is their answer for everything. Which is understandable because their field is a spawn from the steel revolution.

Masonry is over 10,000 years old and in cases like this, is being regulated in its structure and repair method by an industry that is only a few hundred years old and a limited branch off from masonry. To get proper details on how to repair this issue, read the article "Sagging metal lintel and cracks above garage".

Sagging Metal Lintel and Cracks Above Garage

The original cause of this masonry problem is generally poor design. There must be an allowance at each end of the lintel for the expansion of the metal as it gets warmer. When the metal expands and is pressing against the brick and mortar at each end, it relieves the pressure in the easiest or weakest point. This is in the middle of the lintel where there is pressure from above and nothing holding the bottom.

Because most engineers have a very low understanding of masonry, and do not understand the true cause of this issue, they will call for thicker steel. Steel is their answer for everything. Which is understandable because their field is a spawn from the steel revolution.

Masonry is over 10,000 years old and in cases like this, is being regulated in its structure and repair method by an industry that is only a few hundred years old and a limited branch off from masonry. To get more details on how this issue happens, read the article "Mortar cracks above garage door".

To repair this brick repair problem, I don't recommend a thicker lintel. This will just add to the cause and will likely create more damage the next time. However, there is one scenario where thicker steel is needed and possibly a reinforced header beam. This is when there is a room located above the garage where a wall is dispersing the weight of the upper level and roof on the lintel and header beam. Under this circumstance, you should consult an engineer.

The proper way to repair a sagging lintel is: 

First, lift your supports in the center of the lintel to where they are snug, but don't lift If the brick are in danger of falling, support or brace them before you begin.

Then, remove any attempted repairs, loose mortar, loose or broken bricks, or other obstruction that may prevent the brick from moving back into place or causing more damage when the lintel is lifted and the brick shift into place. You will be removing all of the broken bricks and damaged mortar joints and getting it all ready to be replaced.

Next, you will start in the center and then divide the length of the lintel in half and in half again. This will identify 5 evenly spaced locations across the lintel. 3 is generally enough, but I like to install 5 supports to help disperse the weight more evenly. At each of the five areas centered and evenly dispersed across the lintel, you will need to remove the brick to allow access for drilling a hole in the lintel. Remove these bricks and drill holes in the lintel but don't drill into the wood beam yet.

Ok, at this point, you need to allow access for the expanding of the metal that caused the problem. You will drill a hole through the mortar at each end of the lintel and clean out enough at each end to allow for the expanding length. This will depend on how thick the lintel is and how long.

After the mortar at each end is removed, you are ready to lift the center of the lintel back into place. Lift very slowly. You do not want to over lift by more than 1/8 of an inch. Lowering the lintel back from an over lift can move too fast and cause the brick to fall on you.

Now that the lintel is in place, the brick are removed for installing lag bolts, and the holes are drilled in the lintel, you are ready to drill the pilot holes in the beam. Use a smaller drill bit to make the pilot holes. We want to leave as much as possible for the lag bolt to anchor into  the wood beam. After the holes are drilled, install your lag bolts with washers to where they are snug, but not pulling the lintel and twisting it backward. Just snug.

At this point, everything that needs removed has been removed. The lintel is back where it belongs and is secure, and has its proper allowance for expansion at each end. The only thing left to do is finish putting it back together.

You will need to use a properly matched mortar. This will require mortar testing and matching services to match the mortar type, color, and texture to insure a lasting repair. AMR Labs provides these services and produces custom bags of mortar that are pre-matched for the project.

After the mortar is matched and you have replacement bricks, mix your mortar and re-install the missing bricks and fill the mortar joints. Do not install mortar at the ends of the lintel. This would cause the same issue to reoccur. You will want to loosely pack these two area with paper, mesh, or something that will easily give way to the lintel as it expands, and seal the surface with latex caulking. Latex is very important. Other types of caulking will get harder than the mortar over time and in our Texas heat, it happens much faster.

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