Ladder reinforcement is offered in varying levels of corrosion resistance, starting with stainless steel and heading downward to basic galvanized. When corrosion begins—and corrosion of steel is a slow, but powerfully expansive process—the rusted steel gradually pushes out the mortar. Because the ladders are typically installed several courses apart, one of the ways to recognize this defect is that the distress occurs only on specific horizontal courses spaced equally apart, like in the photo below, of an entry wall at a residential development.

    If the ladder corrosion is advanced, you can easily see the corroded steel wires in the strips of missing mortar.

    In the early stages, the mortar is still in place but slightly pushed out.

    Because moisture accelerates the corrosion, once the joint begins to open and lets rain water in, the process speeds up.

    A similar defect in concrete, caused by rust of reinforcing steel bars, is called spalling. To learn about concrete spalling, see our blog “There’s cracks running along the home’s concrete tie beam. What’s wrong?”

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
© McGarry and Madsen Inspection


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