Brick homes are some of the most popular choices for homeowners, and for many good reasons. They’re beautiful, low-maintenance, and durable. However, like all homes, they’re not without their fair share of structural issues.
Common Structural Issues With Brick Homes
We all know that brick homes are beautiful, classic, and built to last. But even the sturdiest of homes can develop cracks and other issues over time. Not to worry, though—most of these problems are easily fixed with a little know-how (and some elbow grease).
Keep reading to learn about the most common structural issues with brick homes straight from the experts.
Mortar Deterioration And Cracks
One of the most common problems brick houses face is mortar deterioration and cracks. Over time, brick mortar can degrade due to exposure to the elements, causing it to crack and crumble. This can lead to serious damage to your brick walls if left unchecked.
If left unaddressed, mortar deterioration can cause serious damage to your home. Water can seep through cracks in the mortar, leading to mold growth and wood rot. In addition, loose bricks can pose a serious safety hazard.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to prevent this problem:
- Make sure you regularly clean your brick house, paying special attention to the mortar joints
- Check for cracks regularly and seal them as soon as you find them
- Consult a qualified mason. They will be able to assess the damage and fill in any cracks or voids
By taking these simple steps, you can help extend the life of your brick house and prevent costly repairs down the road. Brick houses cost more to repair than many other siding types as it is.
Foundation Settling: Stair Cracks
One way to tell if your home is settling is by looking for stair-step cracks in brick homes. These cracks form when the bricks on one side of the wall settle slightly lower than the bricks on the other side. As the brick structure settles, the weight of the house presses down on the lower side, causing the brickwork to crack.
In most cases, these cracks are cosmetic and pose no structural threat. However, if the cracks are large or numerous, they can weaken the brick house and allow water to enter your home.
Here’s what you should do if you notice stair-step cracks in your brick house:
- Patch the cracks with mortar or seal them with caulk
- If the stair-step cracks are severe, you may also need to replace some sections of brick siding
- If you have concerns about the stability of your brick siding, consult a professional mason
Brick Deterioration And Erosion
Brick houses are beautiful and durable, but they are not immune to the effects of weathering and time. Over time, brick homes can develop cracks and other signs of wear and tear. If left unaddressed, these problems can lead to more serious issues, such as brick siding deterioration and erosion.
One of the most common causes of brick deterioration is water damage. When water seeps into the brick facade, it can cause the brick to expand and crack. Freezing and thawing cycles can also cause water damage, as well as the growth of moss and other vegetation on the brick surface.
Bricks may also erode if they’re constantly exposed to moisture or chemicals (such as acid rain). If left unchecked, these problems can eventually lead to brick erosion, which is when the brick surface begins to flake away.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help prevent or repair brick deterioration and erosion:
- Regularly clean your brick house, and remove any vegetation growing on the brick surface
- Keep an eye out for any signs of damage, such as cracks or chips. If you notice any problems, be sure to have them repaired immediately
- Have a professional assess the damage to determine if repair or replacement is necessary. In most cases, a few simple repairs will be all that’s needed to keep your brick home in top condition
Spalling brick is a common problem in brick homes. It occurs when the outer layer of brick crumbles or flakes off, exposing the inner brick. While this can happen to any type of brick, it is most common in older homes with brick walls that are not properly sealed.
Spalling can also be caused by weathering or freeze-thaw cycles. When water seeps into the brick, it expands when it freezes and causes the brick to crack and flake. While spalling does not usually cause structural damage, it can leave your home looking unsightly.
If you have spalling brick, it’s important to have it inspected and repaired as soon as possible by a qualified mason. Typically the mason will just need to replace the spalling bricks. However, if left unchecked, spalling brick can eventually lead to major structural problems.
Efflorescence is a white powdery substance that can often be seen on the exterior of brick homes. While it may look like mold or mildew, efflorescence is actually caused by a chemical reaction between water and salt.
As water seeps through the brick wall, it dissolves salt deposits that are present in the brick. When the water evaporates, the salt is left behind, causing efflorescence to form. Efflorescence is not only unsightly, but it can also weaken the brick and cause it to crumble. Efflorescence is typically not found on modern brick houses because newer bricks usually do not have the salt content that older bricks do.
There are a few things you can do to prevent efflorescence:
- Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are in good repair and directing water away from your home
- Seal any cracks or gaps in your brick with mortar or caulk
- If you do notice efflorescence, clean it off as soon as possible with a stiff brush and plenty of water. Leaving it can cause the deposits to harden, making them more difficult to remove
Bricks Are Susceptible To Moisture Damage
Brick homes are often touted for their durability and low maintenance, but they can be susceptible to moisture damage. Brick is a porous material, so it can absorb water from the atmosphere, which can then lead to mold and mildew growth. The mortar between the bricks can also be weakened by prolonged exposure to moisture.
As a result, it is important to regularly inspect brick homes for signs of moisture damage. If you notice any cracks or crumbling mortar, you should have the damage repaired as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration.
However, there are a few things that you can do to help protect your brick home from moisture damage:
- Avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaners on the brick, as they can break down the brick and allow moisture to seep in
- Repair any cracks or gaps in the brick as soon as possible, as these can also allow moisture to enter the home
By taking these precautions, you can help to keep your brick home in good condition for many years to come.
Bricks Are Vulnerable To Intense Temperature Changes
Brick homes are also vulnerable to extreme temperature changes. In freezing temperatures, water inside the bricks expands and can cause them to crack or crumble.
Conversely, in hot weather, the bricks will absorb heat from the sun and can become warm to the touch. If you live in an area with extreme temperature swings, be sure to have your brick house regularly inspected for any signs of damage.
Brick Installation Problems
Unfortunately, many of the issues that plague brick homes often started with poor brick construction techniques. The original brick must be laid correctly in order for your home to be structurally sound. If they’re not, you could end up with cracked walls or foundation problems down the road.
Another common installation problem in brick homes is that the bricks are not properly supported. Again, this is an issue stemming from improper brick installation during the actual construction work. As a result, the building material can shift and settle over time, resulting in cracks and other damage.
Consult with a qualified mason if you are concerned about the quality of your brick house. They will be able to tell you if the problem is superficial or if there is a more serious structural issue that needs to be addressed.
Why Brick Homes Can Be Expensive To Repair
Although brick houses are built to last, they can be quite expensive to repair. This is because bricks are not as readily available as other building materials and because the process of repairing them is quite labor-intensive.
As a result, brick homes require regular maintenance in order to stay in good condition. This is why it’s crucial to repair any issues with your brick structures as soon as you notice them. Delaying repairs to your brick house will only lead to more costly repairs down the line.
Gromex Masonry Inc. Can Fix Structural Issues With Brick Homes
While brick homes are undeniably beautiful and classic, they’re not without their fair share of problems, some of which can be quite costly to fix. As a result, it’s important to be aware of these issues so that you can take steps to prevent or repair them if necessary.
One way to prevent a minor problem from turning into a major repair is to get regular inspections by qualified professional masons like the experts at Gromex Masonry. We will help ensure that your brick home remains in top condition for years to come.
If you suspect your home may be suffering from any of these problems, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Fill out our contact form today and we’ll get started on fixing up your home right away!