masonry: question about brick repair

I have a small storage building made out of brick, about the size of a 1-car garage.
It has two walls, and inside wall made out of blocks and an external brick wall. (A phone company built this long ago)
On one side of the building, some of the bricks on the top row are starting to decay.
The tops of 3 of them have crumbled....and a few more look like they want to crumble. about 1/8 to 1/4 have crumbled and fallen off...one is as deep as 1/2 the brick has broken off. The rest of the brick is solidly connected to its mates.
The rest of the bricks in the wall seem fine, but I am afraid if I start up on the top row with a chisel to remove the rest of the broken bricks, I will damage bricks under or beside the crumbling brick.
Is it better to clean out the crumbled brick and build the hight of the brick back up with some kind of quick set morter?
Is there anything I seal the bricks with to protect the rest?
Thanks, Mike
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
You could be fighting a losing battle. Take a screwdriver and work your way down the courses from top to bottom of the wall(s). If you can crumble existing mortar using modest pressure to scratch along the bed joint you have a serious degradation. Historically speaking, if the building was worth keeping the wall(s) would have to be tuckpointed or replaced.
This already seems to be obvious to you at the top of the wall where the roof structure and flashing have played a role -- over time -- in contributing to the decay you have observed. Ordinarily I would presume this little building has met its useful lifetime but there is good news...
There has been some interesting developments in face brick surfacing techniques in regions prone to earthquake where unreinforced brick structures fall down and go boom. There are techniqes developed that wrap the brick building with a type of fabric which is sprayed with something to form a "girdle." Even decayed brickwork remains strong in compression (almost always that is) so the girdle is a reasonable way to restrict or prevent the brickwork from falling down due to lateral forces that may be present. There are variations on these girdling themes. It may be possible to wrap your little building like this and get another couple of decades of use out of it. Maybe many more decades outliving you! Check out historic masonry restoration contractors around San Francisco which I recall was the area where this new technique was created and is being used.
<%= Clinton Gallagher NET csgallagher AT metromilwaukee.com URL http://clintongallagher.metromilwaukee.com / MAP 432'17"N 882'37"W : 432'17"N 882'37"W

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Clinton, Thanks for your reply and the idea. I don't know that I could wrap it though is the building abuts up to a building in the back and one on a side. Only 1 side and the front are exposed. The front is made with a different type of brick and it seems to show no signs of decay.
The bricks on the bottom where one can reach without a ladder are very solid and there are no cracks in the mortar. The top row is another story though.. and..perhaps as you say, below that too.
What should I do for a temporary fix? Would it slow the decay process if I cleaned out the current decay and built it back up with mortar?
Thanks, Mike
clintonG wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Make the calls Mike. The whole-wrap concept doesn't sound as if it may apply but you never know what you're going to learn when talking to a couple of two or three real dudes who wear dirty pants if you know what I mean. Start local and work your way out.
Finally, as I see it, you're still focused on the cure when you should be determining the cause. My experience working with older buildings that have decayed masonry almost always starts and ends where the roof meets the walls. That's where you find f*cked up or no flashing, rotted roof members and so on that cause further problems. Make the calls. Start local and work your way out.
<%= Clinton Gallagher NET csgallagher AT metromilwaukee.com URL http://clintongallagher.metromilwaukee.com / MAP 432'17"N 882'37"W : 432'17"N 882'37"W

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks everybody. I will call some local masonry people. There are a couple in the town where the building is located. When I called early this summer, they were way too busy to visit...perhaps now they have time for a chat.
I do know this...When they put the new roof on a few years ago, they put no flashing at all....I guess I never noticed until you mentioned it and I looked.
Thanks again everybody.
-Mike
clintonG wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

first i would try to see if there is any circumstance in that area that has caused this, which my not even be the case but if it is it needs to be addressed first. chances are at one time there was a leak of some sort in this area and thats why this area is only effected. Since the building is block simply covered in brick its not going anywhere even if all the brick fall off so dont worry there. Old clay brick are much more soft than new clay bricks and I have replaced some as you have described in the middle of a prefectly good wall.....Its usually water related but not always sometimes its just a weak brick... How you fix it really does not matter structually other thatn the fix not alowing water to get between the brick and the block then you could have internal cracks which again is not going to make the building crash down. I would take out as much of the decaying brick as possiable including any bad mortar and replace it with a commom brick of the same size. If you have a small grinder 4" or so using a dimond blade cut out the MORTAR around the bricks first this will reduce the chances of bothering the others around it but may not eliminate it...remember bricks are layed as a unit so you are going to effect the surroundings the key is to minimize this (otherwise its just more work). If you dont care how it works scrape all the loose marerial out and patch it with a latex patching compound and you are done.

I do not recomend sealing the bricks if you have water issues solve them and the bricks will be fine.
bsd_mike wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
A small grinder or diamond blade? What a rooky. ;-) As I have on jobs in the past I would use a tool such as a Milwaukee hammer drill and a chisel bit.
<%= Clinton Gallagher NET csgallagher AT metromilwaukee.com URL http://clintongallagher.metromilwaukee.com / MAP 432'17"N 882'37"W : 432'17"N 882'37"W

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
He is repointing, not destroying. EDS

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Based on this post and the last you clearly have no idea what this guy is asking about. Im not going to get in to it with you but you might want to read the orig post again.
clintonG wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.