Is it too cold to tuckpoint?


The tuckpointers 2

Earlier in January, the high one day was 23° F. It was 14° outside during morning. Cloudy, humidity @ 73%  And The next day had a forecasted high of 31°. The overnight low was to be 23° and there was a 0% chance for precipitation.

SO, You ask, “Is it too cold to tuckpoint?”  or “Will the Mortar/Cement Freeze?” Yes…. And No…  I’ll explain.

The most ideal tuckpointing conditions will involve outside air temperatures between 40-90° F for the previous 24 hours and following 72 hours, with no heavy precipitation the day before or several hours after installation.

In St. Louis, the most ideal conditions are seen in spring through fall. (March through November sans rain days.) February and December often present workable days but are without guarantee. January is often the most unworkable month. Late January, though, can sometimes yield a few decent days here and there. When ideal conditions are questionable or do not exist, we can combat the cold a few different ways.

First we take note of specifics of the weather.

Temperature:  This includes yesterdays temp, current temps, forecasted highs and overnight lows, outside air temperature, and the surface temperature of the area being tuckpointed.

Precipitation/Humidity: Has it rained/snowed recently? or Is it going to rain/snow soon?

After assessing the situation, a judgement call is made based on our knowledge of the materials and in-field experience. If too many factors argue against tuckpointing using normal work practices, additional measures can be taken to combat them.

How we tuckpoint when it’s cold outside:

i.) The simplest are additives. Additives can increase curing speed and increase heat generated by the exothermic reaction of the mortar curing process. An exothermic reaction, simply put, means it will release heat. Additives are good for smaller projects where temperatures will not fall too far below normal working conditions. Typical additives used to combat cold can include 1 or more of the following: heated water to calcium chloride, other accelerators and more.

ii.)  Covering completed work can also trap heat released by the curing process. Specialized heated blankets/tarps may also be used to add heat to the work surface area.

iii.) Heated enclosures. Tarping off work areas and heating them is the most effective but least economical way to do cold weather construction. This can be done, even on the coldest days. With proper encapsulation of target work areas and large enough heaters, we can raise surface temperatures of work areas as well as the ambient air temperature surrounding the project. This is typically done on smaller scale projects because of costs associated with heating work areas. Costs incurred by using heated enclosures include labor for setup and teardown, fuel for heat source and maintenance of equipment needed for heating the area.

Then one might ask…    How would you know if the mortar didn’t cure properly and/or froze?

Picture of mortar that has frozen before cure

Frozen mortar has premature deterioration

There are tell-tale signs that mortar was improperly installed during freezing temperatures. The most common are spalling and pitting of the mortar joints. This happens as a result of water in the mortar mix freezing before cure. Mortar that is not allowed to cure properly is inherently weaker than a properly cured mortar, obviously. In addition to the improper curing, as the water freezes, it expands and creates pockets throughout the joints. The water will eventually unfreeze, and makes it’s way out of the masonry leaving an incredibly poor joint in the brick, block or stone. The failure can be apparent as early as a few days after installation but may not show for several months, but it always shows. A solid tuckpointing or brick repair project, with proper adjustments made for curing will last 15-30 years, depending on exposure to weather and proper brick maintenance.

Rain, sleet or snow, like a mailman, we deliver.  Call, text or email us today for a free quote for your brick repair project.

  “It’s never whether we can tuckpoint, it’s just weather, WE CAN TUCKPOINT!!!”

We always say that to everyone…

We’ve said it a few times to a couple of people… 

…I said it once…

to myself.