One of the most innovative ways of recycling materials that have probably been over-looked came in the form of a contractor re-using bricks from a brick wall that needed to be torn down during the construction of an addition to a home.
The contractor learned his trade from one long time mason worker who believed that if you have brick as part of your building project, it could last forever. He believed that the only structures that were worth a plugged nickel contained the strong and classy component of brick; also adding that more brick is better.
How could you go wrong following that kind of advice? In the Age of Recycling, as this time in our lives could be described, what would be the sense in sending perfectly good bricks off to a landfill? If we are going to be efficient at recycling, our best course of action is to prevent waste, right? Here are some ideas the contractor had when talking about recycling the brick wall, one brick at a time and his suggested materials.
This project may not be one where any kind of further education degree required, but it is a laborous task and keep in mind the fate of your back from bending and picking up throughout this activity. The only materials needed are, a bucket with water, brick hammers and some muriatic acid for those really stubborn cement-clinging bricks.
This project could really make an impact on the home renovations in keeping with the theme of recycling, if done properly.
The wall needs to be taken down a brick at a time. The best way to do this and still keep the bricks in tact is to be patient and methodical. Tapping the bricks away from the mortar may sound easy but it is a sure test of patience when, in the back of your mind, you continue to think about how much more easy the task would be if you were using a large sledge hammer to do the job!
Once you have the bricks removed from the wall, begin to remove the mortar from each individual brick by chipping at it with the tapered end of the hammer. There will be some instances where the mortar is not going to come off so easily and it is suggested that by placing the brick into a 5 gallon bucket of water, that should almost always make it easier for the mortar to come off the brick. In cases where the mortar is still clinging onto the brick after a few dips in the water, try soaking the bricks in a solution of water and muriatic acid. Please remember to pay close attention to the instructions when using muriatic acid and be sure to wear gloves and protective goggles. After the bricks have soaked in the acid and water mix, all mortar should come off by using a wire brush and cleaning them off.
Reuse the bricks anyway you choose and walk away from the project knowing you’ve done your best to recycle!