Friday, May 9, 2008

Cavity Wall Construction... and Brick House Salvaging

I had a dream last night that there was perfectly intact brick underneath the asbestos. The house looked AWESOME in my dream. Too bad that isn't likely reality! I fear there will be too many nail holes in the bricks themselves to salvage... or that there is an entire wall collapsing, or WORSE.

That being said, we are sure going to give it our best shot! I've been digging up information on brick houses in the area, and what sort of problems we might encounter.

First, I discovered that our house is constructed with what is known as cavity wall construction, where two courses or wythes of bricks creating the wall are separated by a cavity of air. This was popular in the Denver and Colorado area from the turn of the century onward, though somewhat uncommon in other areas of the United States until the 1960's

I based my assumption on the fact that there are no "half bricks" visible in the identical neighboring houses, as cavity wall brick homes are constructed with the bricks laid end to end, creating a wall that is half a brick thick. I confirmed by peaking behind a rotting window frame; the hollow space and two courses of bricks were quite plain to see.

I found a wonderful article at Old House Journal that talked about brick houses in Denver; they published it 6 months ago, and it couldn't have come at a better time. It makes me feel better about the problems we might uncover, and how we might fix them. It's a great read for anyone who might have a Colorado brick home, or a cavity wall brick home.

We will have to keep a careful eye out for delamination of the bricks (when the outer layers of bricks are separate from the bricks behind them), a condition that is common in the Colorado area due to the sunny summers and cold nights. Any bulges in the face of the wall will be evidence.

I was pleased to note that there are masonry specialists in the Denver area with expertise in the sorts of problems we might uncover; hopefully help will be available if we need it.


cotterpin said...

Sound like quite a job- Good luck!

Allie said...

Good luck! I hope what you uncover is in excellent shape!

Jen said...

That's great! When do you start?