[Q&A]: Brick Masonry work | "Why bricks be soaked in water before placing them?"

One of BRICKS-n-MORTAR's regular readers, Mr. B. Kumar asks via 'contact us' form...

"My mason soaks the bricks in water before placing them.  Why?  Is it right to do so?  Please tell a.s.a.p."

Team BnM answers...
Image source: brickmasonry.info
Dear Mr. Kumar, the answer to your query is a big 'YES'.

Your mason is doing the absolutely right thing what he is supposed to do. Besides, consider yourself lucky that you've hired a knowledgeable mason since the fact remains that majority of the workmen do not adhere to this quality requirement for the simple reason that this practice, though very much required for attaining quality work, is time & efforts consuming exercise on its own. And, therefore, most of the masons hesitate to carry out this important and much needed exercise of soaking the burnt clay bricks before laying them for construction works.

Now, let us explain a bit as what is the significance of this procedure..

Red bricks, as what commonly these are called, are blocks of a mix of clay and other suitable constituents like silica, alumina, etc. that are wet-moulded, sun-dried and fire-burnt in desired shapes and sizes. The dried bricks become leather-hard and slightly porous in nature.

If these dry bricks are laid in construction of walls or other masonry works without soaking in water, they absorb the moisture from the cement mortar that is used to bind the brick courses. This ultimately may results in hollow & weak mortar joints that are not very strong in bond.

On the other hand, as a good quality practice, the burnt clay bricks should be soaked in water for adequate period so that the water penetrates to its full thickness and quench the un-slaked (un-reacted) chemical constituents /voids of the bricks to full extent.

Normally, about 2 to 6 hours of soaking of bricks in a tank full of potable water is suggested. Otherwise, in case of paucity of time, a minimum period of one hour prior to bricks being laid must be adhered to. Equally important is the fact that the soaked bricks should be removed from the water tank sufficiently in advance so that they are skin dry at the time of actual laying. Such soaked bricks are to be stacked on a clean place where they are not contaminated with dirt, earth, etc.


Blog Post Title: [Q&A]: Brick Masonry work | "Why bricks be soaked in water before placing them?"

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  1. What is to done in case of ash bricks and cement bricks & tiles?

    RK Gupta

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Mr. Gupta,

    The principle of soaking the clay bricks also applies to all similar category products, viz., tiles, blocks, terracotta, etc. no matter if they are made of clay, cement or in that matter of sense, ceramic tiles too.

    All such products are made by setting of and/or burning the moulded blocks/tiles, and are a bit porous in nature (the extent of porosity, however, may differ from product to product). As such, these products much be quenched by soaking in water tanks/ utensils before laying them for construction works.

    This practice also holds good for recently developed and marketed flyash bricks and hollow blocks too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What if bricks are soaked more than required time? How to determine the optimum time of soaking? Please reply

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Selvie,

    Like we said in the post itself, normally, about 2 to 6 hours of soaking of bricks in a tank full of potable water is suggested.

    Otherwise, in case of paucity of time, a minimum period of one hour prior to bricks being laid must be adhered to.

    In case the bricks have been lying in water for substantial part of time, say like one or two days or even more, ensure taking out the bricks and making them skin dry under sun or in the open air so that extra water retained in the pores of the bricks be let off.

    One more thing to ensure after prolonged soaking of bricks is to take a visual note whether any white, yellowish or other patches have come up on the surface? Such patches, if they do come up on the surface, indicate presence of un-reacted lime in bricks, which is not desirable in any case (called efflorescence of bricks)

    Hope this answers your query.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Is it compulsary to soak Steam Cured fly-Ash Bricks in water before using it? These Fly-Ash Bricks are not poures like clay bricks, they are machine made & hydraulic pressed, even water absorption of fly-ash bricks is between 8% to 13%, still is it required to soak the bricks in water? Please guide me regarding the same & do we have any I.S. Code for Fly-Ash Bricks? Please confirm. Thanks with regards. Sandip .S. Mohite, Goa.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear Mr. Mohite,
    Your query has been answered in a new post on this blog today so that others interested in the topic may also share their insight.

    You may visit the said post visiting this link...
    http://goo.gl/u2jaV

    ReplyDelete

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