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Waters Craftsmen has restored beautiful historic buildings, literally on the verge of collapse. In Petersburg, VA we designed, engineered, and installed a unique timber stabilization system that saved a historic structure from a city mandated demolition, until the owner could raise the funds to affect repairs.  In several other projects, we creatively used timber whaling and grip hoists to retract bulging masonry walls.  And on another occasion, we raised and lowered a several thousand pound historic vaulted ceiling to replace the rotted sills. 

The projects mentioned above were extreme cases, arising from both necessity and neglect. Serious structural problems are easy to avoid in most cases, simple by keeping up with regular maintenance. In some instances, structural issues develop from poor craftsmanship and short sighted design. A common example would be brick headers above entrance-ways and windows. If designed or installed improperly, or by using the wrong materials, structural headers will crack and sag over time.

Do you have rusted steel lintels above your windows?

We have worked to restore severe structural damage caused by rusted or corroded steel either in structural elements like window headers or steel inside cast stone. Once the corrosion process begins it is very difficult to reverse and once steel begins to rust it can expand to nearly ten times it’s normal size. When the steel expands it can crack the cast stone or literally heave the building apart.

Do you have rotted timbers or a sagging roof structure?

A sagging roof can be the indication of rotted roof timbers. Termites can climb all the way into the attic where they can destroy the integrity of the roof structure. If you notice even slight variations in the plain of the roof or bulging masonry it could be a sign of more serious structural problems.

Do you have subterranean water infiltration problems or rising damp?

Many of the buildings we have had to stabilize have suffered from water that enters into the sill or masonry below ground level. Some of the more modern wall treatment methods are wrong for historic structures in that they are not reversible and are destructive to the historic substrate. We have had great success with below ground masonry coatings that are all natural and reversible. In other words it can be removed with out destroying the brick or stone and lasts much longer than a modern tar type sealant. Also the water that flows into a building below ground level can be very destructive to the structural integrity of the building and you won’t know about it until it’s to late. As the sun strikes the wall where water is saturating the masonry below ground level it can cause the moisture to rise to the point where gravity takes over or a shadow line causes it to stop. As it rises up into the wall it can freeze and cause the masonry to crack or allow mold to form in connecting floor support timbers. Once you notice the damage there may be serious structural problems.

Some structural problems are more minor and can be restored with out having to install shoring but it’s much easier to stop the cause than to repair the damage later when things start to sag or bulge. Please give us a call if you suspect subterranean water infiltration.

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