Repointing? ? ?

Our six-unit coop apartment building (brick and mortar) is 82 years old. Recently some of the inside walls have begun to show water damage, which indicates moisture coming in from the outside.
Someone told me this indicates we might need to have the building "repointed." I've never been clear on what this means and what it involves, but I would guess that it's expensive.
I have also been told that silicone paint might be a less expensive alternative to repointing.
Any guidance or experience appreciated.
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Is it a block foundation? I've heard "repointing" as meaning sawing out cracks and opened seams and re-setting the masonry.
Banty
--


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Ray says...

Yes, repointing is the process of removing and replacing the mortar between bricks.
There are different methods for removal and different recipies for mixing the replacement mortar. Depending on the nature of the damage one way or another might be better. Its best to have a mason look at it. Water might be getting in a more common way like bad roof, chimney or window flashing or just an overflowing bent gutter spilling on a bad spot. Waterproof "elastomeric" paint will stop water intrusion along the face of the brick but that may not be the penetration point and do you really want to paint your brick. There may be a clear penetrating sealer or a clear acrylic surface sealer you can use to retain the brick look.
Come to think of it, a standard building inspection of the type you get when buying a home sounds like it would be a better value as you are unsure of the source of the problem yet you are investigating solutions. Better to spend a couple hunderd finding out all that is wrong than spending $2000 to fix what aint broke.
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Thanks -- that helps.
Ray says...

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Ray wrote:

Go to the BIA (Brick Industry Association) web site. The Tech Notes section is very helpful.
I would suggest you look for a forensic architect or engineer. They could go over the building and give a clear statement of existing conditions and possible fixes. If needed, they could rank work in order of importance and time frame. These services are not cheap, but if done by a competent firm can be very well worth the cost. TB
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Many thanks -- will proceed accordingly.

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It may get you through a season or two of water seeping through, but it does nothing for the structural damage that may exist. Repointing is a fairly common form of maintenance on a brick building.
Not sure? Take a good look at the mortar joints. If you see some missing pieces here and there, it is time to do something.
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NEVER EVER PAINT BRICK!!
Paint will peel constantly and you will HAVE to repaint every few years:(
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