Home & Garden

Clean up the mess on the brick

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  • Jul 8th, 2020 9:58 am
[OP]
Jr. Member
Sep 10, 2006
157 posts
45 upvotes
Toronto

Clean up the mess on the brick

The house we moved in has lots of mess on the brick wall (pictures attached).
It looks like mortar leftover from the brickwork.
Can this be cleaned with pressure washer + muriatic acid?
Or is it too late now since the house is already 3 years old?

Another topic... Can I still ask the builder to clean this up? Looks like other houses in my sub-division look clean.
Should the builder clean this mess when they finish building the house?

Any advice will be appreciated!
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19 replies
Deal Addict
Nov 6, 2014
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At first glance this window doesn't look original to the house. It appears it was installed after the brick work was finished because the line looks to be saw cut and the bricks surrounding the window are a close match but don't appear to be from the same batch as the house brick. Could be builder installed or after the fact by home owner/contractor. I dunno if that can be removed easily? Maybe wire wheel on drill?

Acid is often used to wash away stains. Mortor would need abrasive removal I would think.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Sep 10, 2006
157 posts
45 upvotes
Toronto
Thanks a lot! @fordmaple
To be honest I have no idea about the windows... We moved in when the house was 2 years old, and our agent told us the previous owner barely lived in the house, so I doubt they were installed by the previous homeowner.
Would there be potential issues if the windows were installed after the brick work was finished?

would you think those marks are stains? what would you recommend to remove them?

sorry for the newbie questions. thanks again for all the help.
fordmaple wrote: At first glance this window doesn't look original to the house. It appears it was installed after the brick work was finished because the line looks to be saw cut and the bricks surrounding the window are a close match but don't appear to be from the same batch as the house brick. Could be builder installed or after the fact by home owner/contractor. I dunno if that can be removed easily? Maybe wire wheel on drill?

Acid is often used to wash away stains. Mortor would need abrasive removal I would think.
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Oct 16, 2008
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Why would builder clean up? Was there an owner before you?
...
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Sep 22, 2005
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The mason was supposed to clean the mortar residue after their work. We often had to get the builders to clean up the mortar splashes for our 30-day and/or 1-year warranty claims but this is 3 years later so I'm not sure the builder would do that but it doesn't hurt to ask. If they don't do it on a goodwill at least ask them for advice. I see this as a common problem and it's dependent on the mason/builder. Some houses have it so clean while the next house looks like a mess.
Here is some brick cleaning info from the Brick Industry Association:
https://www.gobrick.com/docs/default-so ... ckwork.pdf
Deal Fanatic
Nov 21, 2013
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I am not a pro mason, but on pic #2 it curiously looks like someone tried to repair the mortar joints?
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
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DoorCrasher wrote: I am not a pro mason, but on pic #2 it curiously looks like someone tried to repair the mortar joints?
This is exactly what I was thinking

Either the window was added later / after possession

Or someone’s been messing with the mortar
Deal Fanatic
Nov 21, 2013
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PointsHubby wrote: This is exactly what I was thinking

Either the window was added later / after possession

Or someone’s been messing with the mortar
well it looks like the window on pic#1 been added after original construction, you see that brick have been cut, and brick installed does not kind of "fit" with the pattern... Pic number 2 you can see that someone worked with the mortar, like to fix a crack
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Feb 11, 2007
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OP, do your other windows look like this? Have photos?
If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Sep 10, 2006
157 posts
45 upvotes
Toronto
Thanks all for the reply!
I was just trying to find a way to clean up the mess... did not know there is a bigger problem with the window.
If it was installed after original construction, should i be concerned or worried? more prone to water penetration?
To be honest i dont see why the builder would add a window after possession. this window is on the floor plan...
if they had to do it to fix a crack, should i be worried?

here are some pictures of other windows around the house.
Also found a small crack to the foundation, close to the window in question - is it something that i should be worried as well?

Thanks again. you guys are the best!
DoorCrasher wrote: I am not a pro mason, but on pic #2 it curiously looks like someone tried to repair the mortar joints?
engineered wrote: OP, do your other windows look like this? Have photos?
PointsHubby wrote: This is exactly what I was thinking

Either the window was added later / after possession

Or someone’s been messing with the mortar
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Deal Fanatic
Nov 21, 2013
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No.6 wrote: Thanks all for the reply!
I was just trying to find a way to clean up the mess... did not know there is a bigger problem with the window.
If it was installed after original construction, should i be concerned or worried? more prone to water penetration?
To be honest i dont see why the builder would add a window after possession. this window is on the floor plan...
if they had to do it to fix a crack, should i be worried?

here are some pictures of other windows around the house.
Also found a small crack to the foundation, close to the window in question - is it something that i should be worried as well?

Thanks again. you guys are the best!
As I said, I am no pro mason, but bricks around the windows looks weird.... the pattern of the brick installation just don't fit, but this does not mean you should be worried about it... anyone else have better opinion than mine?
[OP]
Jr. Member
Sep 10, 2006
157 posts
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Toronto
thanks @gumby!
would it be too late to clean the mortar residue after 3 years?
it's always a big challenge to ask our builder to do something. even within the tarion warranty, they can always find a way to postpone or neglect our reasonable requests.
would there be a contractor i can hire to clean this up, like a power washing company?
gumby wrote: The mason was supposed to clean the mortar residue after their work. We often had to get the builders to clean up the mortar splashes for our 30-day and/or 1-year warranty claims but this is 3 years later so I'm not sure the builder would do that but it doesn't hurt to ask. If they don't do it on a goodwill at least ask them for advice. I see this as a common problem and it's dependent on the mason/builder. Some houses have it so clean while the next house looks like a mess.
Here is some brick cleaning info from the Brick Industry Association:
https://www.gobrick.com/docs/default-so ... ckwork.pdf
[OP]
Jr. Member
Sep 10, 2006
157 posts
45 upvotes
Toronto
here is a full picture of the window in question if it is relevant...
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Nov 21, 2013
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No.6 wrote: here is a full picture of the window in question if it is relevant...
so from what I see it looks like this window been installed after original construction, and the one who installed it may have done a good job, don't be concerned about the window installation, but the one who made the mortar joints have made a mess, and have not cleaned it afterwards.. I doubt that if this window been installed after construction the contractor would be willing to do something about the cement mess
Deal Addict
Sep 6, 2017
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No.6 wrote: here is a full picture of the window in question if it is relevant...
Looks like a wider bigger window was supposed to be installed but someone skimped and stuffed in a smaller window? Bricks are cheap while a wider window costs $$$?
[OP]
Jr. Member
Sep 10, 2006
157 posts
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Toronto
possibly... this builder is super cheap.
e.g. i can see we are the only builder in the sub-division that uses the same bricks for window sill.
all others are using like a 1-piece or 2-piece stone instead.

cristianosham wrote: Looks like a wider bigger window was supposed to be installed but someone skimped and stuffed in a smaller window? Bricks are cheap while a wider window costs $$$?
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[OP]
Jr. Member
Sep 10, 2006
157 posts
45 upvotes
Toronto
sorry for one more newbie question...
other than the mess, anything else i should worry about the mortar joints?
if it is just cosmetics stuff, i can live with it. just hope this is not a quality issue.
DoorCrasher wrote: so from what I see it looks like this window been installed after original construction, and the one who installed it may have done a good job, don't be concerned about the window installation, but the one who made the mortar joints have made a mess, and have not cleaned it afterwards.. I doubt that if this window been installed after construction the contractor would be willing to do something about the cement mess
Deal Fanatic
Nov 21, 2013
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Montréal
No.6 wrote: sorry for one more newbie question...
other than the mess, anything else i should worry about the mortar joints?
if it is just cosmetics stuff, i can live with it. just hope this is not a quality issue.
probably just cosmetic. I would not be worried. difficult to have a diagnostc from a pic though...
[OP]
Jr. Member
Sep 10, 2006
157 posts
45 upvotes
Toronto
Thanks!
DoorCrasher wrote: probably just cosmetic. I would not be worried. difficult to have a diagnostc from a pic though...
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Jun 12, 2008
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I don't think those windows were installed after the fact. I think the builder was going for a fancy brick pattern.....like the windows are framed by the bricks. I've seen it done before in other homes.

I think some of the white residue you see on your brick work is efflorescence. That can be cleaned off either DIY or by a contractor.

https://prosoco.com/brick-efflorescence ... tion-tips/

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