Construction of building involves using a wide range of products and construction materials. Sometimes this products and materials don't perform in an expected way due to the defects which they have developed.
Newton Tram Deport which was opened on 1st April 1900 and closed on 28 September 1957 is located adjacent to Newtown Station on the King, Newton. The buildings which house Newton Tram Deport were constructed of bricks together with other construction materials. The figure below shows the location of Newton Tram Deport.
location of Newton Tram Deport
Bricks are construction materials that are used in the construction of walls, pavements and other elements of masonry construction. The bricks can be made from clay, soil, lime, concrete or sand materials, but the bricks which are to be discussed in this paper are clay-bearing bricks as shown in the figure below.
Brick walls of Newton Tram Deport
Since the buildings were abandoned, the walls have developed some defects due to the prolonged exposure to the harsh weather conditions and other factors.
Properties of bricks
Bricks usually have the following qualities which make them be among the best building materials globally.
The colour of the bricks should be bright and uniform so as to create a uniform surface of the wall or any other element of the building they have been used to construct (Sowden, 2011, p. 187). The figure below how the brick with uniform colour.
The bricks should have plane surfaces, sharp and at the same time true right angles which can allow easy bonding during the time of construction. Right angles and plane surfaces make it easy to be used during construction.
Bricks have reasonably good compressive strength, sound resistance to saturation by rainwater. The technique which is used to test the hardness of is by holding the brick with one hand then give it a light tap with a hammer. The sound which should come from the blow should be a dull ring and not a dull thud.
It is a matter of facts that heavier bricks are usually poor insulators while the light bricks are usually considered to be good sound insulation. For the purpose of attaining a high quality of sound insulation in the current time, the bricks are produced with a void at the middle. The figure below shows a hollow brick.
After the brick is immersed in water for more than 24 hours, the water absorption of the brick should not be more than 20 percent by weight. A masonry wall which is built of very hard bricks which absorbs very little water may be penetrated more by rainwater than a wall which is made of bricks which absorbs more water (Stoneham, 2015, p. 65).
The fire resistance of the bricks is usually good. Due to their good fire resistance qualities, the bricks are sometimes used to encase the steel columns in order to protect them from the fire as shown in the figure below.
Encase steel columns
- Sound insulation
Functions of bricks in construction
Bricks play an essential role in the fields of construction and civil engineering. Bricks are usually used as an alternative of stone in the construction industry. Bricks have many applications as discussed below.
- The bricks are used in the construction of walls of any size. For a long period of time, the bricks have been used in the construction of walls.
- The bricks are also used in the construction of floors(Sowden, 2011, p. 53)
- The bricks are used in the construction of arches and cornices as shown in the image below.
Arches constructed from bricks
- Broken bricks are sometimes used as aggregates of concrete.
- Powered bricks are used in lime concrete and lime plastering
- The bricks of various types are used in paving.
Defects of bricks in Newton Tram Deport
The bricks in Newton Tram Deport have the following defects which were observed.
- Frost damage/attack
The frost damage/attack is one of the defects that was noted in the bricks. The defect was common among the older and unburnt bricks. The defect of frost attack was severe in the areas which are exposed most to the external environment, such as the external walls of the building (Richardson, 2016, p. 118).
When water that enters in the bricks turns into ice, there is usually an increase in the volume of approximately 9% this expansions usually causes the bricks to break. The figure below shows the bricks that have broken due to frost attack.
Damaged bricks due to frost attack
- Cracks or checks
This was another defect of the bricks. The bricks were observed to contain some cracks. The cracks might have been attributed to the excess water or because of lumps of lime in the bricks. When the bricks come into contact with water, the water which is absorbed reacts with the lime nodules thus causing expansions and subsequent disintegration of the brick (Gambhir, 2013, p. 360). The figure below show
This is a defect which was observed as a spongy swollen mass on the surface of the bricks. The defect was due to the presence of excess amount of carbonaceous matter and also sulphur in the brick. The figure below shows bloated brinks.
- Stains and Efflorescence
This defect was observed in the bricks have they had a white border like substance on their surfaces that was attributed to the soluble salts that are present in the brick and now they are being brought on the surface of the brick (Engineers, 2012, p. 76). The white substance has resulted in a lot of staining in the bricks which were observed. The figure below shows some of the stained bricks.
- Disintegration and weathering
Due to the exposure of the harsh weather conditions, the bricks which were observed had their surfaces weathered which resulted to the surfaces becoming rough as they have eroded. The figure below shows some of the weathered bricks (Duncan Marshall, 2013, p. 176).
Disintegrated and weathered bricks.
Solutions to the defects of bricks
The solution to the defects of bricks include;
- The defects of frost attack can be prevented by implementing good quality materials and suitable construction detail which prevents the entry of mistier into the bricks.
- The defect of staining can be prevented by regularly brushing and washing the wall to remove the crystallised salts(Duggal, 2015, p. 67).
- The cracks and checks can be prevented by using the high-quality bricks and mortar and at the same time to protect the brick walls from moisture and water which contributes to chemical reactions taking place within the brick and thus resulting to blockage(Atkinson, 2014, p. 152).
- The defect of weathering in the bricks can be prevented by plastering the brick wall to prevent exposure of the bricks to the agents of weathering.
In conclusion, Bricks plays an essential role in the fields of construction and civil engineering. Bricks are usually used as an alternative of stone in the construction industry. The bricks can be made from clay, soil, lime, concrete or sand materials the defects of bricks include disintegration and weathering, cracks and checks, Bloating
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