Winters in Canada are diverse, with some regions experiencing cold, dry seasons and others facing cold, wet periods. In addition, there is the fluctuation between warm days and cold nights. All of these factors affect your masonry. In areas where wet winters are the norm, masonry issues arise more frequently. In Toronto, the southern location, means drier winter weather with less snow and rain compared to other areas of the country. For residents of Toronto, this can mean longer lasting masonry with fewer issues, even so concerns arise. Let’s explore Toronto in winter and the area’s winter weather can affect your masonry.
The Canadian Freeze/Thaw Cycle
The Freeze/Thaw Cycle in Canada is the culprit behind many common masonry problems. During freeze/thaw cycles, water which finds gaps in masonry freezes, expanding the water molecules, which in turn causes pressure damaging your masonry. As long as freezing temperatures persist, the pressure remains until the temperature rises, melting the water back to its liquid state. Because the freeze/thaw cycles persist over the winter months, the pressure recurs causes deterioration of your masonry. In a study performed by the National Research Council is was discovered that the average brick wall, facing southwest, experienced approximately 100 freeze/thaw cycles in a single winter. That is a lot of repeated pressure on your masonry joints each winter, and some areas experience even more.
Your mortar joints are constructed to act as exit points for water, keeping damage away from the brick or stone work on your home. Mortar, being less expensive than bricks or stones, is also easier to replace if and when damage occurs. In fact, the mortar is design to break down, protecting your brick and stone as time passes. When your mortar joints begin to fail, they require repointing, to continue to protect your masonry and your home.
Repointing is the process by which masonry professionals remove failing mortar joints and replace them with comparable (color and strength) mortar. When handled correctly, your mortar will continue to keep your home safe and secure from further damage or even eventual collapse. Even in Toronto, where the weather is drier, it is important to check for signs of masonry damage and ensure timely repairs. When your masonry joints are in good repair – intact and sealed properly – you can prevent water from being trapped within and causing masonry deterioration this winter.
The Danger of De-Icers
While de-icers may seem helpful in the moment, they can cause damage to your masonry when used time and time again during the Canadian winter. Salts are the most common culprit, and when used on entryways, walkways, steps, or driveways, can mean masonry deterioration. Salt absorbs into the bottom of your building, causing efflorescence (chalky white staining) on your bricks, a result of salt crystalizing on your masonry. Of course, the aesthetic effects of salt aren’t the only damage which occurs as a result of de-icers.
Salt de-icers are even more damaging to historic structures, often causing rapid deterioration. Sand or salt alternatives are better options for de-icing when needed. Again, while the greater Toronto area is drier, often with less snow fall than other parts of Canada, some winters prove to be more challenging than others.
Call on Turnbull Masonry with your Masonry Concerns
While it is true that masonry in Toronto is less prone to damage in winter, you should still examine your masonry structures for any issues related to Canadian winters and the damage which can result. All masonry requires repair or restoration at some point in its lifecycle and Turnbull Masonry can help. At Turnbull Masonry, you will find the trustworthy expertise needed to ensure the longevity of all your property’s masonry. Contact Turnbull Masonry today and get the assistance you need for Toronto masonry maintenance, repairs, restoration, and rebuilds.