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Understanding Accelerated Deterioration in Infrastructure

What you need to know about accelerated deterioration in infrastructure

Accelerated deterioration is the process or phenomenon of building decay, failure and damage happening at an increasing rate. This process, of aging and decay, atrophy of a building system is often non-linear, meaning that deterioration happens faster and faster as time goes by because as deterioration occurs, that deterioration allows or creates an increasing area for potential future forthcoming deterioration.

Rapid Deterioration in Building Structures

Deterioration can damage buildings to the point that it is extremely expensive to repair, damage happens at a non-linear, exponential rate. The effects of harsh weather and decay cause the gaps to develop over time in the joints between masonry units.   These effects are insidious and cause deterioration to accelerate as time goes by. In other words, as deterioration happens, openings in the wall increase in size and more weather, such as water and ice, is allowed to enter the brick joints and therefore those elements cause greater deterioration, at a faster and faster rate.

Water Ingress and Brick Damage

accelerated deterioration

This leads to the entrance of water through the holes thereby leading to significant damage. Repointing is the process of sealing mortar joints that are exposed to the elements. This prevents larger repairs and further cracking by keeping precipitation, ice, wind, insects, and plants out of your building’s masonry facade.

This list, above, includes potential elements which can enter your building’s brick joints, can cause significant damage. Once damage begins to occur, once these elements have an opportunity to enter, they cause more damage and then damage happens at an increasing rate.

The picture shows an example of a area of a historic brick wall, where precipitation and rain water is unmanaged above. A drip edge or projection of rickboard above would allow water to be slightly directed away from the face of the building. Here though instead, the flow of water is directed right over the face of the brick and at that area where a concentration of water is directed, the brick masonry has deteriorated at an accelerated rate.