Why Bricks should be Soaked in Water before it is Used in Construction?

Good Bricks are one of the most important building material used in construction. It is available in rectangular shapes and has standard dimensions. Brick is made from a natural material (clay) and is used in construction since years. Brick masonry is a great art of construction in which bricks are laid systematically with respect to bonding, jointing and finishing. In brick masonry bricks are bonded together with the help of mortar (Cement + Sand+Water). The strength of brick masonry majorly depends upon the quality of brick and type of mortar.

Brick Masonry
Brick Masonry

Courtesy – luciuscompletehome

When brickwork is started, few questions arise in everyone’s mind!

“What is Soaking of Brick?”

“Why Bricks should be Soaked in Water before it is used for Masonry?”

“How much Time Brick should be Soaked in Water before Laying?”

“How to Soak Bricks in Water?”

These are the important questions which confuses the user or constructor. Here we have tried to answer the above questions.

What is Soaking of Brick?

Courtesy – blogspot

When an object becomes thoroughly wet by immersing it into the liquid it is called soaking.
To make brick thoroughly wet i.e. saturated by immersing in water, it is called soaking of bricks.

Why Bricks should be Soaked in Water?

(a) What will happen when Brick is Soaked in Water?

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The brick by nature is porous and hence it has a tendency to absorb the water or moisture. Porosity is the ability to release and absorb moisture, and it is important and useful properties of brick.

  • When brick is soaked in water, the brick absorbs water and release air so that when it is used in masonry and placed over the wet mortar, it will no more absorb any water from the wet mortar. However, if it is dry i.e. not soaked in water, it will start absorbing water from the mortar. Thus because of loss of water from mortar, hydration of cement will not take place and mortar will not gain strength. Thus, it will fail to make a strong bond between bricks and mortar. Ultimately, it will make the bonding of masonry wall weak.
  • Soaking also helps to remove dirt, dust, sand and particularly any other soluble salts, which cause efflorescence.
  • If the bricks are soaked in water for the required time, then soluble salt in the bricks will be leached out, and subsequently, efflorescence will be reduced.

Courtesy – theconstructor

  • Soaking reduces tendency of bricks to suck water from wet mortar otherwise, the mortar is likely to dry out soon and crumble before attaining any strength.

(b) What will happen to Bricks if not Soaked in Water?

  • Bricks are made from the natural material (clay) and then burnt at high temperature for achieving strength. When bricks are used in construction, it is dry and when bricks are not soaked in water it absorbs too much water from cement mortar. Hence the proportion of water to mortar reduces as a result of which the mortar becomes weak, and mortar fails to make the bond between individual brick due to lack of enough water for hydration of cement in mortar (hydration of cement is a chemical process between cement particles and water, and the process starts when water is added in cement which produces a certain amount of heat).
  • It also affects the water cement ratio of mortar and the water content required for making workable mortar for brickwork. Water cement ratio is also important for the strength and bondage of mortar. When water cement ratio is not optimum, mortar becomes weak and does not remain workable. Ultimately it will weaken the masonry and will reduce the strength of the masonry.

For above reasons, it is necessary to soak bricks in water before laying them.

How much Time Brick should be Soaked in Water before Laying?

Bricks are porous building material, so time for the soaking of bricks depends on their porosity. When bricks are very porous then it rapidly wet and will require less soaking as compared to less porous bricks. Period for the brick soaking also depends on the weather conditions.
It is a common tendency to make brick wet by sprinkling water. But this method may not yield result.  It is necessary that bricks be completely saturated with water. Bricks should be soaked until it does not absorb a single drop of water.
As per IS: 2212 – 1991_BrickWork the period of soaking can be easily found out at the site by a field test where in the bricks are soaked in water for different periods. They are then broken to find out the extent of water penetration in brick. Then minimum period that corresponds to complete soaking will be considered for that batch or lot of bricks.

Courtesy – Youtube

Bricks should be soaked in water before use for a period so that the water penetrates the entire depth of the bricks. Normally it is suggested to soak bricks for atleast 12 hours. Soaking of bricks should be continued till air bubbling ends.

Courtesy – Youtube

Permissible water absorption for all clay bricks is 12% to 20% of its weight.Remember: After bricks are soaked in water good bricks will not show any deposits of white salts on drying.

How to Soak Brick in Water?

The best way to do this is to use the drums for soaking of brick. Put bricks in drum or tank and fill it completely with water and allow soaking happening.

Bricks Soaked in Drum

Courtesy – vripmaster

The second alternative method is that bricks may be adequately soaked in stacks by profusely spraying with clean water on bricks at regular intervals for a period not less than six to eight hours.

Bricks Wet using Spraying Water

Courtesy – images46.fotki

In a multi-storey building, it is not possible to soak brick in water at ground floor and carry them to others floors. Hence make the necessary arrangements of temporary water storage tank on each floor.
Each day put that quantity of bricks into a water tank which is needed for the next day. Next day take them out from water at least one hour before starting masonry work to remove excess water from bricks.
Soaked bricks should be stacked on a clean place where they do not again come in contact with dirt, earth, etc.Remember:

  • Soaked bricks should be removed from water tank in advance so that the skin of brick remains dry at the time of actual laying.
  • The bricks shall not be too wet at the time of use, as they are likely to slip on the mortar bed. Moreover, proper adhesion of bricks to mortar will not be possible if the bricks are too wet.

These are the important reasons for soaking brick in water before using in construction. It is the most important procedure to do before constructing any brick masonry wall of your home.

Also Read:
Things to Keep in Mind While Buying Bricks
Various Shapes of Brick used in Construction

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