Wall ties are an essential component in the construction of cavity walls. Responsible for holding the inner and outer leaf of the cavity wall together, wall ties prevent walls from separating or bowing outwards. Over time, your wall ties can deteriorate leading to potential structural issues. In this article, we give you a comprehensive guide on everything wall ties, from causes of failure to prevention, and when to replace wall ties.
What Are Wall Ties?
Wall ties are metal connectors that span the cavity between the inner and outer leaf of the cavity wall. They’re typically made of galvanized steel or stainless steel designed to transfer lateral loads between the two leaves of the wall. They come in various shapes and sizes, such as butterfly ties, fishtail ties, and screw-in ties. You can read more about different types of wall ties here.
Do Wall Ties Really Need Replacing?
As essential components in cavity walls, wall ties help connect the inner and outer walls of your home, making them structurally stable. As a rule of thumb, if your home was built before the 1980s, you have around 15 to 20 years before you need to get a professional to replace wall ties in your home. Wall ties in properties built during and after the 1980s are generally made of stainless steel and can last well over 50 years. If you choose not to replace your damaged wall ties, the structural integrity of your walls can be compromised, causing it to become unstable. This could lead to further cracks and damage and, in severe cases, the wall may collapse, causing serious injury or even death.
Why Do Wall Ties Fail and How to Prevent It?
Wall tie failure can occur due to various factors, but the most common cause is corrosion. Corrosion occurs when your metal meets moisture and oxygen. In the case of wall ties, this process is accelerated because they’re typically embedded in a moist environment within the cavity of a wall. Over time, this can cause wall ties to weaken and eventually fail, compromising the structural integrity of the building. To prevent corrosion, ensure that the cavity is adequately ventilated, allowing moisture to escape, and reducing the risk of condensation. Additionally, choose wall ties made of corrosion-resistant materials, such as stainless steel or titanium. These materials are more expensive than traditional galvanized steel ties but offer greater protection against corrosion and are worth the investment in the long run. Another factor that can contribute to wall tie failure includes mechanical damage, such as drilling or cutting into the wall, and damage from improper installation, such as insufficient spacing or inadequate embedment depth. This type of damage can weaken the wall ties, making them more vulnerable to corrosion and prudent for you to replace wall ties in your property. Ensure that your wall ties are installed by certified professionals and avoid unnecessary trouble from improper installations.
How Can You Check the Condition of Your Wall Ties?
Checking the condition of your wall ties is an important part of maintaining the structural integrity of your building. While most checking methods are relatively invasive, here are some steps you can take to check the condition of your wall ties:
- Look for visible signs of damage: Most obvious signs that your wall ties are failing are if there are any visible cracks or bulges in the walls. Bulges can indicate that the wall ties have failed and are no longer providing the necessary support. You may also notice that walls are starting to bow or that the mortar joints are starting to crack.
- Check for dampness: Damp walls can also be an indicator of wall tie failure. Moisture enters the cavity through gaps in the mortar joints or around the windows and doors, and if wall ties are not functioning correctly, they can act as a bridge for the moisture to travel from the outer leaf to the inner leaf. This results in damp patches or stains on the internal walls, especially near the bottom where moisture tends to accumulate.
- Inspect the condition of the mortar: Cracks in the mortar joints between the bricks or blocks of your property’s walls could be an indication that your wall ties are failing. This occurs when wall ties have corroded to the point where they are no longer able to provide the necessary support for the outer leaf of the wall. As a result, the bricks or blocks can shift and move, causing cracks to appear in the mortar joints. If you notice this, contact a professional immediately, this is a serious issue that requires immediate attention to prevent further damage.
- Hire a professional: If you suspect that your wall ties may be failing but are not sure where to start checking, call in a professional. A professional contractor can give you quick and honest advice on whether they need replacing. They’ll have the necessary tools and expertise to carry out a thorough inspection of your wall ties and provide qualified advice on whether you need to replace the wall ties in your property.
Regular inspections of your wall ties can help you catch any issues early on and prevent more serious problems from developing. If you notice any signs of damage or dampness, take action as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your building and your family.
How Can You Replace Wall Ties?
In general, the process involves removing the outer leaf of the wall, extracting the old wall ties, and installing new ones. Once the new wall ties are installed, the outer leaf is reattached, and any necessary repairs are carried out.
The full process to replace wall ties can be complex and invasive requiring careful planning and execution. It’s crucial to seek professional advice and hire a qualified contractor to carry out the work.
Wall ties are a critical component of cavity walls, and their failure can lead to serious structural issues. It’s essential to address any signs of wall tie failure promptly and seek professional advice when necessary. By understanding what causes wall tie failure and how to prevent it, you can take proactive steps to replace wall ties early to ensure the long-term integrity of cavity walls and the safety of your family. Don’t take the possibility of a compromised wall tie lightly. Your home’s structural integrity is too important to ignore.
Are you concerned about the condition of your wall ties? Ignoring the signs of wall tie failure can lead to costlier structural issues or worse, serious injury. Let Atlantic Damp give you some peace of mind. Schedule a professional inspection today.