Nothing is more disheartening than finding extreme damage to your concrete block walls. If you own a CMU building, you probably know what I am talking about. Loose paint, stair steps, water bags, missing mortar joints, and efflorescence are just a few of the problem building owner face and the maintenance of these buildings can be a painful lesson in vigilance.
Some problems are caused by movement as the wall heats up and cools down. On a winter day it isn’t uncommon for the walls to reach ambient temperatures as low at -20 degrees F and, if your walls are painted a dark color, to reach 50 degrees in the daytime sunshine. That is a huge and fast temperature swing in a relatively short time – and this can happen day in and ay out. In the summer, you walls can reach over 120 degrees in the hot summer sun. Most builders put expansion joints in the walls every 20 to 40 feet. Older buildings didn’t usually get this treatment so they are prone to cracking at these stressed areas.
Peeling and missing mortar joints are often the result of getting water inside your wall. Water is a pernicious ruiner of buildings. It can enter through a leaky roof, a cracked mortar joint, a poor paint job that didn’t seal all the pores, a leaky coping, or through failing caulk joints. Once water enters, it will be drawn out by the heat of the day and nothing will stop it. It’s hard to imaging the amount of hydraulic pressure involved as the water is drawn out or as it freezes in the block overnight. Our sprayers operate at around 3,200 psi. Larger hydraulic presses can operate at over 20,000 psi. Freezing water can generate up to 25,000 psi! Nature and her God are incredible! You can only imagine the damage freezing water can do to your building. You should really get this taken care of sooner than later!
Now for the cure. I hate to tell you that once you see peeling paint, the cost to repair it can be multiples of a simple clean and paint. The loose paint will have to be stripped from the block and the failed joints will have to be repaired and this takes very large pressure washers and an abundance of time. A simple fast food exterior repaint goes for around $5,000 but if your building has this kind of damage, that can easily exceed $12,000. The good news is that, once the remedy is applied, your building will be good to go for another decade or so with little to think about. Of course, this doesn’t include the other solutions like a new roof or replaced caulk joints, so you should be prepared to spend a good deal of money!