Eliminating Building Movement

The purpose of this article is to briefly explain some of the most common reasons for building movement and explain why our Energy Brick stands as a super product that eliminates many of these issues.

Building movement can be caused by a number of factors.

We all have become very familiar with looking and seeing cracking in buildings where the drought or cold weather conditions have been blamed.

This is particularly used where footings are blamed because of the expansion and contraction of the clay sub base soils.

Even though the drought can be a valid reason, it is being blamed far too often, and other basic factors are being overlooked.

Many building materials, of themselves, tend to expand with increase in moisture content and contract with loss of water. For some buildings materials, these movements are theoretically reversible; while for others they are irreversible or only partially reversible. The reality is that it is rarely reversible.

As you can imagine, when it comes to the external wall structure of any building, the wall orientation, the type of materials used, and colour are the governing factors regarding building movement.

Changes in building design have affected the design and behavior of many building components including masonry walls.

The most significant change for brick masonry is the shift from load bearing masonry walls to skeleton frame construction.

Other factors include the use of thinner walls, composite walls and insulated walls.

The use of cement based mortars and the tendency to specify high compressive strength mortars have become common. Although stronger units and mortars increase the compressive strength of the masonry, they do so at the expense of other important properties.

Thus, masonry walls are thinner and more brittle than their massive ancestors.

These thinner walls are more susceptible to cracking and spalling if provisions for differential movement are not accounted for properly.

Let’s look at some of the most common material used.

Clay products, such as clay bricks, expand slowly over time upon exposure to water or humid air. This expansion is not reversible by drying at atmospheric temperatures.

A brick unit is smallest in size when it cools after coming from the kiln. The unit will increase in size due to moisture expansion from that time.

Most of the expansion takes place quickly over the first few weeks, but expansion will continue at a much lower rate for several years depending mainly on orientation and stress of the building.

The moisture expansion behavior of bricks depends primarily on the raw materials and secondarily on the firing temperatures. Bricks made from the same raw materials that are fired at lower temperatures will expand more than those fired at higher temperatures.

This expansion of clay bricks is often called “brick creep”.

There are a number of methods that have been introduced to lessen the impact of this, such as the use of articulation joints. Although this has been a step forward, the question arises “Why not bypass this problem and associated costs by using a superior product such as the Energy Brick where brick creep is dramatically reduced, if not eliminated?”

Concrete masonry blocks experience shrinkage as a result of moisture loss and carbonation.

Shrinkage of concrete masonry is affected by the method of curing, aggregate type, change in moisture content, cement content, and wetting and drying cycles.

The size, weight, and orientation location in the building also play important roles.

When we look to the internal walls which form part of the external wall structure, we have a number of other different components which add to this “push and pull” effect against the exterior skin.

The type and size of the timber or other material used in the inner skin of the wall, how much insulation, sislation and the size of air gap or lack of gap between internal and external components can also have an effect.

All in all, the more building components used in the structure of the walls, the more chances there are of significant building movement due to this expansion and contraction process.

This is where the Energy Brick comes into its own.

Our superior building product, the Energy Brick, eliminates the need for the multi stage, multi trade, and multi material process of current wall construction.

The superior quality Energy Brick delivers massive ongoing savings because of its structural capabilities, speed of construction, massive R8+ insulation, and lack of building movement.

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