How to install air brick – it may seem like a humble task, yet it’s one that underpins the health of your home. Air bricks are the sentinels against damp, the guardians of dry foundations, and the silent facilitators of fresh air.
If you’re eyeing those exterior walls and wondering how to enhance their breathability, you’re in the right place. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast ready to tackle your next project or a seasoned tradesperson keen on brushing up your skills, this guide will walk you through the nuts and bolts of air brick installation with precision and professionalism.
Join us as we delve into the steps that will not only boost your home’s ventilation but will also preserve its integrity for years to come.
Assessing the Need for Air Bricks
Before you start drilling holes and handling mortar, it’s crucial to evaluate where and why you need air bricks. Gain a complete understanding of the importance of air bricks by consulting our detailed Do Air Bricks Stop Damp? blog post.
Typically, older houses with a suspended timber floor require more ventilation compared to houses with solid concrete floors, to combat the build-up of moisture.
If you’re dealing with a ground floor that’s above external ground level, or a cavity wall that’s crying out for good ventilation, then installing air bricks should be high on your to-do list.
Choosing the Right Air Bricks
With various types of air bricks available, such as clay, plastic, and even cast iron, your choice can impact not just airflow but also the aesthetics of your exterior wall.
Ensure the bricks you select provide ventilation sufficient for the space. Also ensure they are suitable for the specific build of your walls – be it a solid wall or cavity walls.
Planning the Installation
Location and Marking
Identify the optimal spot on your external wall, typically at least two brick courses below the damp-proof course, to prevent water ingress.
For homes with timber floors, position your air bricks between floor joists to maintain structural integrity. Mark the corners where you’ll install the brick, ensuring it’s level with the ground or other air vents for a consistent look.
Preparing to Drill
Don the appropriate safety gear because it’s time to get dusty. Using a drill with a masonry bit, bore pilot holes at the corners of the marked area. This guides you to chisel out the existing bricks cleanly.
Removing the Bricks
Getting Hands-on with Tools
Grab your trusty club hammer and bolster chisel. Start tapping gently at the mortar around the existing bricks you’re aiming to replace. Take care not to damage the surrounding bricks. You’ll create a hole just the right size for your new air brick.
Once you’ve removed the necessary bricks and debris, brush down the cavity. Clear walls and gaps ensure a solid setting for the air brick and mortar.
Installing the Air Brick
Mix your mortar to a firm, workable consistency. Apply an even layer onto the bottom and sides of the hole. Position your air brick into the cavity, pressing firmly into the mortar.
Securing the Brick
After placing the air brick, apply mortar around the edges to seal gaps. Smooth out the joints for a tidy finish and let the mortar cure as directed, usually for at least 24 hours.
Checking for Blockages
Before you pat yourself on the back, inspect the air brick for any accidental blockages. Clear them away to ensure unimpeded airflow.
The Final Touches
Replacing Floorboards and Cleaning Up
If you’ve had to lift floorboards to access the space, now’s the time to replace them. Then, give the work area a final sweep to remove any remnants of your handiwork.
How To Install An Air Brick in a Cavity Wall
For those of you looking to install an air brick in a cavity wall, the process is much the same as the above bar a few slight variations.
When installing air bricks in a cavity wall, it’s essential to ensure that air does not get trapped within the cavity itself. To achieve this, opt for a plastic air brick that comes with a telescopic sleeve designed to span the cavity.
Another important differentiation when working with a cavity wall is that the brick must come out on the interior side. The technique is similar to the one used for the exterior wall; however, this job calls for an extended-length masonry bit and a cold chisel to reach through the cavity.
Below we’ll give a brief summary of how the installation process might look:
Here’s a streamlined process:
- Telescopic Sleeve and Cavity Tray: If you’re fitting the air brick above the damp-proof course, equip the telescopic sleeve with a cavity tray to effectively divert moisture.
- Preparing the Mortar: Mix a mortar blend using one part masonry cement to five parts building sand, adding water until you reach a workable consistency.
- Moistening and Mortaring: Dampen the edges of the prepared hole. Then, with a bricklayer’s trowel, spread the mortar along the bottom edge where the air brick will sit.
- Fitting the Air Brick: Apply mortar to the top and sides of the air brick and press it firmly into the hole. Ensure it sits flush with the existing brickwork by gently tapping it with the trowel handle.
- Finishing Touches: After the air brick is in place, tidy up any excess mortar and point the joints to blend seamlessly with the wall. Clear the air brick holes with a stick or wire to prevent blockage.
- Ventilation Grill: For increased room ventilation, especially when installing above the damp-proof course, secure a ventilation grill over the interior hole to complete the installation.
Conclusion: Breathing Easy with Your New Air Brick
We’ve covered the nuts and bolts of how to install air bricks – from assessing the need for enhanced ventilation in your building to the final act of securing the brick in your wall.
It’s a task that demands attention to detail, a steady hand, and a clear understanding of the importance of ventilation for homes, especially those with suspended timber floors or solid walls.
As we have established, proper airflow is crucial, not just for the longevity of the building’s structure, but also for the health of its occupants. Air bricks serve as a remedy to moisture-related woes like condensation, mould, and damp soil in crawl spaces.
Whether you’re dealing with a new build or retrofitting an older house, the process we’ve explored is your pathway to ensure every room has access to good ventilation.