In this video Roger Bisby demonstrates how to support brick work safely using the brick brace system during load bearing wall removal.
“It seems like years ago that I was first introduced to the Brick Brace. It is no illusion, time flies and in all that time I have been waiting for the right job to try it out on. That’s strange because knock throughs are bread and butter work for small builders. So why has it taken me so long to get out on site with this little device? Well to be quite honest with you I was clinging on to the security of the Acrow prop and Strong Boy. For someone who has been testing new products for over 30 years this is a surprising confession. I was shown structural calculations and test certificates for the Brick Brace but it was the scaffold tube ingredient that worried me. The company told me that the tube is used to connect all the tools together. We are talking about a triangle of brickwork and the fact that the tube is clamped securely at each end means that in order for it to bend it needs to find the extra length to do so and the couplers bolted into the brickwork stops that. This was the bit I hadn’t really appreciated and is why scaffolding works, the tube has hardly any strength but it works like the wire in a PSC beam.
“So having accepted that it is possible to calculate the exact load on that triangle and prove that the tube will cope easily I felt a lot happier. If there is a point load, such as floor joists then you must prop the floor in the usual way so you are then certain that it is only the self weight of the brick triangle being supported. That, in essence, is how permanent lintel loads have been calculated since the Ancient Greeks built the Parthenon (still standing) in Athens.
“The second factor working in its favour is the compression that the brick courses are under. Anyone who has knocked out a prop by accident and seen that the wall doesn’t immediately collapse knows that the compressive strength is a significant factor. The Brick Brace system was originally developed for sand and lime to increase that linear compression but is also used in sand and cement mortar. In the case of sand and lime you need a safety tool every other joint but in sand and cement it is every third joint.
“Taking out the perps with an SDS bit proved a lot easier than I anticipated, so there is no need to kit yourself out with specialist tools. Once that bit is done you anchor bolt the scaffold clips (all supplied) to the course above and the safety hooks are then hooked onto the scaffold pole. That is the work done. You are now at the same point you would be if slotting in Strongboys.
“Now I wouldn’t say that you should remove the brickwork and leave for any longer than necessary but that is the same with all temporary support. If you are needling through with timber or using Strong Boys you will also be keen to get the lintel or steel beam in place and mortared up. Trying the Brick Brace you may feel that you would still want to use a prop or two but if the Brick Brace is nothing more than the braces to your belt then that is not a bad thing.
“A surprising number of these jobs go wrong for one reason or another. I am sure you can write a list of reasons as easily as I can and I will confess that when struggling to fit a steel with props in the way we have quickly angled other props above and removed the Strong boy for a few minutes, or hours.
It is unlikely that such actions end in catastrophe but it does happen. More common is that you end up with cracks which are often difficult to fill and never the same as before so why take the risk if there is a solution?
Having used the Brick Brace System I feel I have finally knocked that little nagging doubt out of my system and I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again. You might not need them for every knock through but they take up no space in your van and they certainly ease a difficult job.