What Are the Signs of Wall Tie Failure?

In this blog, we will answer the question ‘What are the signs of wall tie failure?’

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What is a wall tie?

A wall tie is a hidden but critical element in buildings with cavity walls. These walls are essentially double walls with a gap, or cavity, in between. This cavity construction offers benefits like insulation, moisture control, and soundproofing, but it relies on wall ties to function properly.

Imagine tiny bridges holding the two separate sections of the wall together. That’s exactly what wall ties do. They span the cavity, securely connecting the inner and outer layers of brickwork. This seemingly simple function brings key advantages such as:

  • Stability: Wall ties prevent the two sections of the wall from leaning or bulging outwards, ensuring the overall stability of the structure.
  • Weather Resistance: By keeping the inner and outer leaves firmly connected, wall ties help prevent water from infiltrating the cavity and potentially damaging the inner wall.
  • Structural Integrity: Wall ties distribute wind loads and other stresses more evenly across the entire wall, improving its overall strength and resilience.

Since wall ties are hidden within the cavity wall, they’re typically positioned horizontally at regular intervals and remain invisible once construction is complete. They’re typically made from galvanized or stainless steel for good corrosion resistance, with plastic options becoming more common due to their non-corrosive properties.

However, poorly installed or low-quality wall ties can deteriorate over time, leading to serious problems. These issues can not only affect the aesthetics of a building but also compromise its structural integrity and energy efficiency. So with that being said, what are the signs of wall tie failure?

What are the signs of wall tie failure?

Wall tie failure can be a serious issue for cavity wall construction, but there are warning signs to watch out for. Here’s what you should be aware of:

Visible Signs

  • Horizontal cracks: These cracks typically appear along the mortar joints, often in a stepped pattern. They can indicate that the wall ties are no longer effectively tying the inner and outer walls together.
  • Bulging walls: In severe cases, the outer leaf of the brickwork may start to bulge outwards due to the loss of stability caused by failing wall ties.
  • Movement in windows and doors: If you notice cracks around windows and doors, or if they become misaligned or difficult to open and close, it could be a sign that the wall ties are failing, and the surrounding brickwork is shifting.

Less Obvious Signs

  • Internal cracks: While less common, cracks can also appear on the interior walls if wall tie failure is putting stress on the inner leaf of the brickwork.
  • Detachment of render: If the outer layer of plaster or render on the wall starts to detach or crumble, it could be due to underlying issues with the cavity wall, potentially caused by failing wall ties.

Additional Clues

  • Age of the building: Wall ties made from low-quality materials or installed poorly are more likely to fail over time. Buildings constructed before the 1980s are at a higher risk of having wall tie issues.
  • History of moisture problems: Water ingress through the cavity wall can accelerate the corrosion of wall ties. If your building has a history of dampness, be extra vigilant for signs of wall tie failure.

It’s important to note that these signs can also be caused by other issues. If you suspect wall tie failure in your building, it’s crucial to consult a qualified surveyor or structural engineer for a professional assessment. 

They can diagnose the problem, determine the extent of the damage, and recommend the most appropriate course of action for repair or replacement of the wall ties.

Can I leave my wall ties if they are failing?

Absolutely not. Ignoring failing wall ties in your cavity wall is a gamble that can lead to serious consequences, impacting both the structural integrity and value of your property. Here’s a breakdown of the potential problems:

Escalating Damage

  • Widening cracks: Left unaddressed, cracks in the brickwork will likely worsen, becoming more prominent and spreading further. This can significantly detract from the building’s aesthetics and become an eyesore.
  • Increased bulging: Over time, the outward movement of the outer wall can become more pronounced, jeopardizing the stability of the structure. In severe cases, sections of the wall may become detached, posing a safety hazard.
  • Water infiltration: Compromised wall ties can allow moisture to penetrate the cavity and potentially seep into the inner wall. This can lead to dampness, mould growth, and further deterioration of the brickwork.

Structural Issues

  • Reduced stability: Failing wall ties compromise the connection between the inner and outer walls, weakening the overall structure’s ability to withstand wind loads and other stresses. This can lead to movement and potential cracking throughout the building.
  • Lintel failure: Wall ties also help support lintels above windows and doors. If the ties fail, the lintels can become overloaded and crack, compromising the integrity of openings in the wall.

Financial Repercussions

  • Costly repairs: The longer you wait to address failing wall ties, the more extensive the damage will become. This will ultimately translate to a higher cost for repairs, which can be significant for severe cases.
  • Decreased property value: Visible signs of wall tie failure, like cracks and bulging walls, will undoubtedly lower the market value of your property. Potential buyers may be discouraged by the repair costs associated with these issues.

Safety Concerns

  • Falling debris: In extreme situations, bulging walls can become unstable and lead to the detachment of bricks or other masonry elements, posing a safety risk to anyone near the building.
  • Structural collapse: While uncommon, in severe cases where wall tie failure is widespread and left unattended for a prolonged period, the structural integrity of the building can be significantly compromised, potentially leading to a partial or even complete collapse.

Can I fix wall ties myself?

No. Unless you are an expert in the area, we would never recommend that you attempt to repair and replace them yourself.

However, our experts at Cotswold Treatments can help! We identify the root cause, like failing wall ties, and fix it permanently. Over 20 years experience, guaranteed quotes, and free reports with awarded contracts. We cover the South West. Call now for a convenient inspection!

Secure the best wall tie service today

At Cotswold Treatment (PP) Limited, we strive to help all our customers to the best of our ability. We deal with issues caused by condensation, damp, rot, and wood boring pests, we also provide solutions for interior and exterior wall cracking.

As damp proofing specialists who have been in the industry for over 25 years, we guarantee that we work diligently to solve any issues you require our help with.

In this blog, we hope to have answered the question ‘What are the signs of wall tie failure?’, Whilst providing supplementary information that you can learn from. 

If you have any questions or are looking to obtain a quote, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You can click here, or get in touch through the details below. 

Address: 

Unit 28e, 

Poundmill Business Centre

Thornbury, 

Bristol, 

BS35 1NX

Telephone:

Bristol: 01454 417199

Gloucester: 01453 511154 

Email: 

[email protected]