CommunityHow Do I Fix Crumbling Mortar in Brick Columns?

How Do I Fix Crumbling Mortar in Brick Columns?

My house was built in 1900.  The porch deck and the portion of the house above it are supported by a column of bricks.  My problem is, the cement between the bricks is crumbling. The bricks are still in place, but I'm nervous that the columns aren't structurally sound.  Can I perhaps put a form around the columns, then fill a 2-inch or so space around the brick with new concrete?  Or should I support the structure, remove the bricks, dig below the frost line and do a Sonotube column?  Thanks for any advice.  I like your radio show. 

The Money Pit Answer
The construction you describe sounds typical for a turn-of-the-century house, and you'll probably be relieved to hear that the solution is to simply maintain the existing brick work.  In most cases, this simply requires repointing the mortar between the bricks.  Repointing is the act of using a small triowel to push new mortar into those spaces to maintain the architectural integrity.  It's a run-of-the-mill masonry job, and if it's done right, you can go on enjoying your house for another 100 years! Repointing is frequently required on brick foundation walls and such, and will secure your columns - so no more worrying about integrity. That said, if those columns are crumbling to the point where they're sagging or collapsing - in other words, are structurally unstable - you might need to support the roof with temporary supports, which is done by running beams from the ground up to the underside of the roof beams. A structural engineer can help you determine whether this is necessary.