Drying response of lime-mortar joints in granite masonry after an intense rainfall and after repointing

Lucie Fusade, Scott Allan Orr, Chris Wood, Meriel O'Dowd, Heather Viles
2019 Heritage Science  
When rain impacts a building façade, it is essential that once it has entered, it leaves by evaporation to help the building dry out. Accumulation of moisture can lead to internal dampness, mould and decay of valuable masonry by salt weathering. In a solid masonry wall where the stone is of low permeability, such as granite which is found in many historic buildings, rain water mainly enters and leaves through mortar joints. If granite stone masonry needs repointing, the repair mortar must allow
more » ... r mortar must allow the overall masonry to dry out. This study evaluates the drying response of various lime-based repointing mortars mixes in small granite stone masonry constructions (test walls) subjected to a simulated intense short rain event and then left to dry. It determines the moisture movement through mortar joints, the influence of materials, joint types and workmanship, and whether repointing could mitigate moisture ingress and help masonry dry out. This study developed a novel experimental protocol which allowed comparison of the drying response of different mortar types in a low-porosity stone masonry system and the effect of repointing. Five test walls were built of Cornish granite with five different lime mortar mixes combining NHL 3.5 (St Astier) gauged with non-hydraulic quicklime (Shap), quartz and calcitic sand and biomass wood ash as additives. Simulated intense rain was sprayed on each wall over a 3.25 h spell. Drying was monitored over a week with a microwave moisture device (MOIST350B). Measurements were done at surface and depth on both mortar joints and granite units. Each wall was then repointed with the same mortar mix initially used when built and the same rain simulation was performed to evaluate differences repointing could make to the moisture dynamics. The importance of mortar in dealing with moisture movements in the test wall and absorbing moisture from the stones was demonstrated. Gauged binder and wood ash additives decreased the capillary absorption capacity of mortars while retaining a good drying rate. This study has also showed that after repointing water did not penetrate as deep under the same conditions. Therefore repointing reduces the threat of water ingress and shows that it could be a suitable conservation intervention to mitigate water ingress and accelerate drying.
doi:10.1186/s40494-019-0277-7 fatcat:hpnxhtiq7fcz5oh2mpt6cxxrui