Buildings are made of many independent structures that tie in together to create the final product. There are many systems in place within a building like the wiring, plumbing, walls, foundations, all necessary components for a building to function. However, the most important of these components is the skeleton of a building. Just like the human body, a building needs a basic skeleton to provide structural support to everything else. One of the essential types of structural support is called the lintel and in this article we will give you the nitty gritty of lintel, how it is used to support building structure, how to check for lintel damage and how and when to replace or repair it when it starts deteriorating.
What are Lintels?
A lintel is a form of structural support that is used to help bear the load of doors and windows. It can be made of any of various different materials. They are usually constructed or installed on top and bottom of the structure. The main function served by lintels is the provision of extra support and strength to areas weakened by fenestrations like doors and windows. That is why keeping an eye out for lintel health, and replacing or repairing them promptly is very important.
Types of Lintels
The type of lintel material used depends on the overall size and structure of your home. It also depends on where your home is constructed and the kind of elements it is meant to weather.
Timber is a popular option found in many older properties. While timber can be aesthetically pleasing, timber lintels are susceptible to more damage over time and require frequent repairs and replacements.
Metal lintels are another more durable option. While they are structurally sound, they can still deteriorate and rust over time especially in more humid environments, so it is important to check them periodically for damage.
Brick buildings often employ brick and masonry lintels. This is achieved by placing bricks vertically instead of the standard horizontal format. While convenient, they do not provide the same strength as some of the other options.
Last but not the least in lintel types is concrete. Concrete lintels are malleable and can be poured to fit any structural design aspects. It also far more durable than many of the other options
How to check for lintel damage?
There are many signs to look for if you are checking your lintel for replacement or repair needs. You should check for damage at least once every year and as long as you know what to look for, you can self-assess your property. Periodic inspections also save money as you can often nip damage in the bud, before needing more extensive and expensive repairs. Here’s what you should keep an eye out for
- In timber, check for signs of rot and cracks. These indicate whether your timber lintels need replacement.
- In metal lintels, signs of damage include rusting or warping. Bowing, bending and cracking are signs of damage and indicate that the lintel needs replacement.
- Look out for warping, swelling, loosening mortar and cracking in brick lintels. A mason will be able to repair any damage on site.
- Damage in concrete lintels is evident from cracking or if the brickwork or wall masonry around the lintel has shifted. Reinforced concrete lintel repair carried out by professionals can easily fix any damage.
It is imperative that any broken or damage lintels be fixed immediately. Any delays may further risk the structural integrity of your property. Repairing or replacing lintels is a process that requires expertise and should only be done by professionals.