Lintel Repair and Replacement
You might have noticed that there are cracks above your windows and doors, this can be a sign that your lintel may be damaged. If that is the case you will need to consider conducting lintel repairs or replacement to fix the problem.
Lintels are fitted above the windows and doors to support the weight that is above so if these start to show signs of damage then the building could be at risk of collapse. We explain what a lintel is, why you may need to repair or replace lintels and look at the diverse types of lintels.
What is a Lintel?
Firstly, we need to explain what a lintel is. A lintel is a type of structural support that is designed to hold the weight of the building above windows and doors. Lintels can be made of diverse types of material, depending on the age of the property, such as brick, steel, concrete, or timber.
In older properties, the lintels are made out of timber, stone, or steel while most modern buildings are constructed with steel or concrete lintels.
Why do Lintels Need Repairing?
Lintels are strong and durable however, just like all things, they will need some maintenance due to a number of factors. There are many varied reasons why lintels need repairing and these are the following:
• Natural Deterioration: If the property you are living in is exposed to adverse weather conditions then this will over time affect the materials used for the lintels. They will start to expand, corrode and will in turn cause cracks which will therefore reduce the integrity of the lintel.
• Woodworm, dry rot, or wet rot: Just like natural deterioration, if your property is attacked by timber related issues such as woodworm or wood rotting fungi then this can cause damage to the lintels (if they are made out of timber). This tends to affect old buildings which are either exposed to a heavy amount of moisture or the property has not been maintained properly for an extended period of time.
• No Lintel Installed: Having no lintel installed does not necessarily mean the builder forgot to add it in. Older construction methods did not necessarily use lintels and instead opted for using a metal door and window frames to support the weight above it. Problems start to occur when the owner wants to replace old windows and doors with modern UPVC units. The problems with this are that UPVC units are not designed to function as structural supports so the brickwork above will add pressure and eventually cause cracks to occur.
Identifying for Lintel Damage
Identifying a faulty or damaged lintel does not always need the services of a structural engineer to check the condition of the lintel. A good indicator that your lintel is faulty is that there will be vertical or diagonal cracks appearing above the door or window. Where there are cracks, they should not extend more than the width of a door or window.
Different Types of Lintels That can Become Damaged
As already described, your property can have diverse types of lintels depending on how old the building is. Therefore, it is important to understand what type of lintel repairs are available and the effect they can have.
Timber Lintel Repair
Timber lintels are often used in older buildings and can last just as long as steel or concrete lintels however, they are prone to being affected by dampness. If this happens then this can lead to attacks from woodworm, dry rot, or wet rot. To rectify the problem, the structural engineer will have to replace them with helical spiral bars.
Metal Lintel Repair
Metal lintels will eventually corrode over time which means that will expand and start to crack. To fix this you will need an engineer to replace the existing lintel or fill in the crack with resin injection depending on the condition.
Brick Lintel Repair
Brick lintels and brick arch lintels and repaired using helical bars. The helical bars are bound together with the anchor grout, so it creates a strong masonry beam.
Concrete Lintel Repair
Steel rods are added to concrete lintels for extra protection. While it does improve the integrity of the lintel it can lead to the issue of being affected by penetrating damp. As the concrete is penetrated by moisture the rods will expand and start to rust and then began to crack as a result. To fix this may result in having to replace the concrete lintel.
Why Should You Repair the Lintels at Your Property?
If you are seeing cracks appear in the masonry, then this should be rectified as soon as possible. If the cracks are not fixed, then this can lead to further structural problems and the possibility of the property not being safe to live in. The earlier the problem is identified the quicker and the less costly it will be to fix or repair the lintels.
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