Daddy, Why does that house have bags under its’ eyes?

Daddy,  Why does that house have bags under its’ eyes?    ……..Sill’yness

window sill seepage and brick mortar damage.


If windows are the eyes of a house then damaged or stained zones under the windows are ‘bags’ under the eyes.

So the ‘bag’ that you see here is simply wet masonry. It is wet from melting snow that has been sitting on the window  sill. The water from the snow (or rains at other times of the year) slowly soaks into and seeps through to wet the bricks and mortar joints below. Sometimes it just runs down the surface. But the mortar soaks in the water and holds it. the brick and stone sill faces absorb less, have less initial penetration and the surface will evaporate water and dry out faster. Hence the lighter colour of the wet brick compared to the surrounding mortar.

Now what happens when the sun goes down and the temperature drops. That water freezes. The mortar begins to break down. Eventually it crumbles and falls out. At some point the mortar is repointed. Rarely is the colour matched perfectly and some times there is no match at all.

Now the ‘bags’ are permanent.

The shame of it is that a slightly better sill installation would have kept it all dry and looking like new.




Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

(AP) The apartment was dirty with mold. Insurance wouldn’t settle. An OMG File.

 The apartment was dirty with mold. Insurance wouldn’t settle.    It was A.P.          An OMG File.

girl wearing mask

I was calling to investigate a ‘mold’ problem that turned out to be dirt, soot in fact.

I asked my client why she thought there was mold. She brought out the air quality test report.

As I was reading it, her daughter came in from the other room. She was home sick from school and wearing a face mask.

She had respiratory problems. My hair stood on end.

“When is her medical appointment?” I asked. “Tomorrow” was the answer.

“So when you go see the doctors bring this air quality report and show them theses two words that I’ve underlined here.” So they did.

I called to follow up a week later and asked how the appointment went. Both the mother and daughter, as well as everyone else who lives in that building (8 people), are being sent to see specialists.

Oh yeah the two words; aspegillius penicillii ………(AP)

This is the plural form of aspergillus penicillium. This is a seriously severe group of molds that are toxic to humans and animals.

So if you have any reports or documents that read as if they were latin, have them explained to you.  A lab technicians report is only data.  It won’t tell you if a condition is serious or what to do about it.

Report interpretation and remedial consulting is a part of our service in the Montreal area.



Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

This wall looks pretty good, no problems here, right?

side wall

This wall looks pretty good, no problems here, right?

Well maybe.

But look up at the second story level.

Look where the decorative front type brick meets the planer single colour side brick.

You can see the joint between the two, right?

The light whitish colour of the mortar, yes.

Why is it like that, we don’t see any others like it do we.

So lets go over and take a closer look at it.

Now you can see it ;

wall detail

Now you CAN see it!

There’s a bulge!

What does that mean?

That means that the ties that joined this masonry to the wall framing behind have let go, at least in some areas.

Why? The metal strips have rusted and broken. This is from water that has gotten in behind the wall bricks over the years.

This can be from just the weather exposure of the brick, but usually it indicates a weakness in the parapet wall flashing or leaking roof conditions.

 I suspect I already know what I’m going to see when I get on the roof of this property.

To fix this a mason has to remove the bricks down from the top until he reaches solid wall areas and then rebuild the wall back up to the top.

The bricks all have to be cleaned of the old mortar in the process or be replaced with new. The parapet wall flashing has to be taken off and then reinstalled in process of rebuilding this wall. So even without paying for new bricks this will be a labour intensive repair.

So before you finalize the purchase price of this property you need a masonry contractor to provide the pricing for this repair. It will definitely be a factor in the financing of this property.


So if you are in the Montreal area, and are planning to buy or sell property, you need these costly repairs identified. You can contact me for a full inspection or an issue specific consultation.

Not even two weeks ago there was an incident reported on the news here in Montreal where a section of wall masonry fell off a high story building and damaged a neighbouring property about 10 storeys lower. The bricks broke through the roof and ceiling of the upper floor. Fortunately no one was in those rooms at the time.

View news report images:

So even when you are not preparing to sell or buy property, don’t neglect the maintenance inspections. Oh, and by the way this is also a service that I provide.


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post